Out High School Senior’s Graduation Speech Goes Viral

Out High School Senior’s Graduation Speech Goes Viral
(screen capture via GMA)

High school senior Zander Moricz, who is not only out but president of the 2022 senior class of Pine View School for the Gifted, delivered a graduation speech that’s gone viral after coming up with a creative way to say exactly what he wanted to discuss.

Zander Moricz wanted to take the opportunity to speak about his experience as a gay student and criticize House Bill 1557, which supporters call the “Parental Rights in Education” but is better known as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. Earlier this year, he had organized a student walkout and a similar protest in downtown Sarasota in protest of the bill prior to its passage.

But Moricz was told in advance of his speech that his microphone would be cut off if he made any mention of the anti-LGBTQ law.

From MySunCoast.com:

Moricz said the principal told him such comments would be “polarizing and not school appropriate.” He said his face turned red.

“I’m told that my human rights are controversial and therefore not appropriate for school setting. I’m the class president and my human rights are not appropriate for my speech at my school graduation.”

And so, he decided to deliver his message in a creative way.

He spoke about his curly hair, how his curly hair is a part of who he is, and how he learned to embrace it.

“I used to hate my curls I spent mornings and nights embarrassed of them trying desperately to straighten this part of who I am, but the daily damage of trying to fix myself became too much to endure,” Moricz said.

“There are going to be so many kids with curly hair who need a community like Pine View, and they won’t have one. Instead, they’ll try to fix themselves so they can exist in Florida’s humid climate.”

And everyone knew exactly what he was saying. Here’s his full speech. He addresses his “curly hair” at the 3:45 mark, but I encourage you to watch the entire speech.

I think it’s terrible that Moricz was basically being pushed back into the closet in being told to censor his speech. And, in order to be who he is, found himself speaking in code – like queer people were forced to do in times gone by with hand gestures or “hanky codes.”

Zander is now part of a lawsuit against the state of Florida regarding the “Don’t Say Gay” law. He and his lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, appeared on Good Morning America today to discuss his speech and the hateful law.

During the interview with Robin Roberts, he says being told to censor himself felt “dehumanizing.” And even though he came up with his clever metaphor, “I shouldn’t have had to. I don’t exist in a euphemism, and I deserve to be celebrated as is.”