• Fri. Dec 2nd, 2022

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Florida student goes viral after giving classmates an LGBTQ history lesson

A few days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill limiting LGBTQ instruction in the state’s public schools, high school student Will Larkins had an idea. 

Larkins, the founder and president of the Queer Student Union at Winter Park High School, just outside Orlando, said he asked his history teacher if he could share a lesson with classmates about the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York City, widely considered a crucial turning point in the modern LGBTQ rights movement. The teacher agreed, Larkins said. 

“She didn’t know what it was,” Larkins said of the Stonewall uprising. “That just speaks to how unfortunate our education system is. They don’t even teach history teachers that. It’s something you really have to go out of your way to learn about.”

The Stonewall uprising was a multi-day, LGBTQ-rights protest in front of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village neighborhood. The uprising was ignited after patrons decided to fight back following a routine police raid on the bar. The Stonewall Inn was the first LGBTQ site in the U.S. to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1999), and it was named a National Historic Landmark (2000) and designated a national monument (2016), according to the NYC Historic Sites Project.

Larkins, 17, a junior, had one of his classmates record the March 31 lesson, and he posted the video to Twitter three days later. It quickly went viral, leading to a profile on Larkins in The Washington Post on April 4. 

In an interview Friday, Larkins said a complaint was filed against him by his history teacher, who claims that Larkins misrepresented her in his interview with The Washington Post, and, as a result, he is now being investigated by his school. 

“I’ve been under investigation probably 10 times this year. I’ve never gotten a disciplinary infraction for any of these,” Larkins said. “I’m very outspoken about the homophobia that I face at my school.” 

Winter Park High School did not respond to a request for a comment. 

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