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Pete Buttigieg sends heartwarming letter to gay teen activist in Florida

Chasten & Pete Buttigieg
Chasten & Pete Buttigieg Photo: Courtesy of Chasten Buttigieg

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sent a heartfelt thank-you letter to an out high school grad who is suing the DeSantis administration over Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Zander Moricz drew media attention earlier this year when his high school principal told the out senior class president of Pine View School for the Gifted in Osprey, Florida that any mention of LGBTQ issues, advocacy, or his sexual orientation in his valedictorian speech to graduating seniors would result in his microphone being silenced.

Instead, Moricz delivered a thinly-veiled graduation speech using his curly hair as an analogy for his sexual identity. The speech went viral after it was posted on YouTube, and apparently Buttigieg and husband Chasten Buttigieg saw it.

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“After Chasten and I saw your graduation speech earlier this year and heard about your appearance at the Department of Education, I wanted to be sure to personally thank you for your voice and advocacy,” the Transportation Secretary and former presidential candidate wrote in his letter to Moricz. “Your combination of wit and courage has reverberated across the country in ways that will benefit people you’ll never even meet.”

“I am always mindful that my own service as the first openly gay Cabinet Secretary is possible only thanks to the activism and advocacy of other who came before my time – and there is no doubt that your example will open doors for many others who now look up to you, even as you are just starting your own path forward following your graduation,” Buttigieg continued.

Last month, Moricz was also invited to deliver his original speech before the Department of Education.

“Zander Moricz wasn’t allowed to deliver the original valedictorian speech he wrote for his Florida high school graduation because it included references to his LGBTQI+ activism,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona tweeted in July. “So, I invited him to deliver it at the U.S. Dept. of Education. When students speak, we must listen.”

Moricz is one of several plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Florida’s anti-LGBTQ “Parental Rights in Education” law, which was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in March and bans discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in younger grades and restricts them in older grades.

Earlier in the year, he organized an all-school walkout in protest of the law, commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

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