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Florida student activist Will Larkins went viral in April after a video of him giving a history lesson about the 1969 Stonewall uprising — a pivotal moment in the LGBTQ equality movement — was posted on Twitter.
His lesson was given just a few days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law the Parental Rights in Education bill, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay“ bill by critics. The measure, which goes into effect on July 1, prohibits “classroom instruction … on sexual orientation or gender identity … in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”
Larkins, an incoming senior at Winter Park High School in Florida, is the president and founder of his school’s Queer Student Union and has been an active speaker on the Florida Senate floor for LGBTQ students.
When asked whether he had a message for other LGBTQ students across the country who are feeling the pressure of anti-LGBTQ state legislation, Larkins recommended that they recognize the current environment is “only temporary.”
“It’s always so important to remember that the people who are in power now will not be in power forever, and our generation, the young people, are organizing across the country to fight these bills and to put a stop to this horrendous legislation,” he said. “As horrible as it seems now, this is only temporary, and soon we will bring everything up to speed. I think we’re the future, and we’re going to change things once we can vote and run for office.”
This year, as we enter Pride Month, Larkins, who uses both he and they pronouns, said it’s the first year he fully understands the concept of gender and is “letting go of any sort of pressure to be a certain way.”
“The first time I actually said the words ‘I am nonbinary’ was on the Florida Senate floor. So like, it’s all very new to me. But for the first time ever, I feel like to me, Pride is expressing myself for myself and not for anyone else in any way,” he said.