When 17-year-old Florida high school student Will Larkins asked their teacher if the Stonewall riots would be included in an upcoming curriculum on U.S. history of the ’60s and ’70s, the response they got was less than inspiring. The history teacher was unfamiliar the events, which are widely considered to be the spark that ignited the modern LGBTQ rights movement.
So Larkins took matters into their own hands, delivering a powerpoint presentation about Stonewall’s significance to their U.S. history class (and teacher).
“LGBTQ American history is not taught in Floridas public schools, so I took it upon myself to explain the events of the Stonewall Uprising to my 4th period US history class,” Larkins captioned a video of their presentation on Twitter that has since gone viral. “#SayGayAnyway,” they added, referencing Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which was recently signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis. The law forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, but also includes ambiguous language that could allow for parents of older students to sue over perceived violations.
The clip has now been viewed over 444K times:
LGBTQ American history is not taught in Floridas public schools, so I took it upon myself to explain the events of the Stonewall Uprising to my 4th period US history class. #SayGayAnyway pic.twitter.com/A73TKPlWXF
— Will Larkins (@ProudTwinkie) April 3, 2022
Among the outpouring of support, some commenters questioned why Larkins chose to wear a dress to deliver the presentation.
They answered simply “because I wanted to” in a follow-up tweet, sharing several other fabulous shots:
A lot of people in the comments are asking why i “had to wear a dress”
— Will Larkins (@ProudTwinkie) April 4, 2022
After the Washington Post covered the story, Larkins says their school is “currently investigating me about this piece because my history teacher doesn’t like it.”
My school is currently “investigating” me about this piece because my history teacher doesn’t like it. bruh. https://t.co/2fFESHZXjE
— Will Larkins (@ProudTwinkie) April 6, 2022
Larkins, who is the co-founder and president of the Queer Student Alliance, testified against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill at its final Senate hearing and organized a student walkout in protest before it passed.
— Will Larkins (@ProudTwinkie) February 28, 2022
In a recent New York Times op-ed, Larkins wrote that “under threat of lawsuits, districts, schools and teachers may be hesitant to talk at all with students about gender identity and sexuality, even if the conversation is ‘age-appropriate.'”
“When I look back to elementary school,” they continued, “I wonder how different my childhood would have been had my classmates and I known that I wasn’t some tragic anomaly, a strange fluke that needed to be fixed. People in support of the bill always ask, ‘Why do these subjects need to be taught in schools?’ To them I would say that if we understand ourselves, and those around us understand us, so many lives will be saved.”