Florida high school senior Zander Moricz was called into his principal’s office last week. As class president his whole high school career — and his school’s first openly LGBTQ student to hold the title — this was a fairly routine request. But once he entered the administrator’s office, he said, he immediately knew “this wasn’t a typical meeting.”
His principal — Stephen Covert of Pine View School in Osprey, Florida, roughly 70 miles south of Tampa — warned Moricz that if his graduation speech referenced his LGBTQ activism, school officials would cut off his microphone, end his speech and halt the ceremony, Moricz alleged.
“He said that he just ‘wanted families to have a good day’ and that if I was to discuss who I am and the fight to be who I am, that would ‘sour the celebration,’” Moricz, 18, recalled. “It was incredibly dehumanizing.”
Covert did not reply to NBC News’ questions concerning his alleged warning to Moricz. However, he released a statement through his employer, Sarasota County Schools, saying he and other school officials “champion the uniqueness of every single student on their personal and educational journey.”
In a statement, Sarasota County Schools confirmed Covert and Moricz’s meeting, adding that graduation speeches are routinely reviewed to ensure they are “appropriate to the tone of the ceremony.”