Zander Moricz’s English teacher was clearly doing their job, because his metaphor game is on point.
The Florida senior class president had been warned not to discuss his experience as a gay student during his graduation speech. Moricz is the youngest public plaintiff in the lawsuit against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and organized student walkouts in March against the then-pending legislation. Ahead of his graduation, Moricz was called to the principal’s office and informed that if he discussed his role in the case or any of his activism during his speech, his mic would be cut and the ceremony halted.
So when he stepped up to the podium at Pine View High to deliver his speech, school officials were listening closely. What they heard was a story about Moricz’s hair.
“I must discuss a very public part of my identity. This characteristic has probably become the first thing you think of when you think of me as a human being,” he said.
“As you know,” he continued, “I have curly hair.”
As Moricz removed his graduation cap to run his fingers through his locks, his peers laughed and clapped in approval.
“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,” he said.
Moricz found a brilliant way to deliver his message within his school’s ridiculous guidelines — we’re not shocked he’s Harvard-bound in the fall.
The school district provided a statement saying all student speeches are reviewed in advance:
“Students are reminded that a graduation should not be a platform for personal political statements, especially those likely to disrupt the ceremony. Should a student vary from this expectation during the graduation, it may be necessary to take appropriate action,” read the statement in part.
“There is nothing political about the fact that queer people exist, and there’s nothing political about the fact that we should be able to discuss the existence of the LGBTQ+ community,” Moricz recently told our sister site, INTO. “So to be told that that was the reason that something had to be censored or changed was deeply upsetting. By allowing ourselves to make a community of human beings controversial, we are acknowledging and legitimizing the idea that the rights of a human being are a debatable topic. And they’re not. My rights are not up for debate, who I am is not controversial, and I am not a political talking point.”
We see a bright future ahead for Moricz, and we’re so glad he’s embraced those curls.
Watch his speech below (the hair story begins around the 3:45 mark):