ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Public Schools students and supporters said state leaders need to get their priorities straight. Students questioned why politicians are exerting more energy to ban books and curriculum than to stop gun violence in schools.
Tuesday, a group of students and advocates for “LGBTQ rights” rallied ahead of an OCPS board meeting.
Will Larkins, an OCPS student leading the rally Tuesday, addressed board members. He expressed his concerns regarding the Parental Rights in Education law and how it could impact students.
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The group chanted and sang “Let us read” to board members, reacting to recent book bans in schools.
Shortly after, Larkins was escorted out by a law enforcement officer and his group followed behind.
“We are here to show you this is just the beginning, and if they keep attacking our rights, we will keep fighting back,” Larkins said.
The group continued to rally outside the administration building. In the midst of their demonstration, attendees heard the horrifying news.
A mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, left 19 students and two adults dead.
Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the Pulse Massacre and one of the speakers at the rally was quick to react.
“The only question that keeps coming to my mind is: What the hell are we doing,” Wolf said. “We’re debating whether LGBTQ people in schools are a threat to people simply by existing, and in the same time those leaders who are shoving that extremist agenda down our throats say nothing while children are gunned down in schools across this country.”
Now, students in Orange County worry they could be next.
“Every day when I walk onto campus, I think, ‘What if today’s the day that it’s our school?” Larkins said.
OCPS issued this statement in response to the mass shooting:
Speakers at the rally were mortified to hear children’s lives were taken due to gun violence.
Many said lawmakers need to spend less time dictating what kids can talk about in school, or what book is appropriate to read and create gun control laws that prevent these continuous tragedies.