Jack Petocz, a student at Flagler Palm Coast High School, attempted to deliver the following at Tuesday evening’s Flagler County School Board meeting. Board Chair Janet McDonald shut him down the moment he mentioned her name, in contravention to board rules: she should have given him a warning first. He was allowed to return more than two hours later to deliver a different version, with McDonald’s name censored. The original text of Petocz’s statement is presented here unedited. For details about Tuesday evening’s meeting, see “School Board Chair McDonald Shuts Down Speaker Critical of Her at Public Meeting, Drawing Rebukes.”
My name is Jack, I am an IB student at FPC. Throughout recent times, hatred towards minority groups have become increasingly commonplace throughout our world. From the Trump administration’s continual pursuit of reversal of LGBTQ+ rights, to extreme and racially motivated police brutality, in states across our nation.
Instead of utilizing her platform to speak out against this hate, the chairwoman of this board has only amplified and supported discriminatory voices. On her Twitter account, she has retweeted tweets promoting conspiracy theories regarding vaccines and the Covid-19 pandemic, homophobia, criticisms of the Black Lives Matter movement and activism, as well as a tweet from an anti-semitic account. I will now read aloud some of her twitter activity:
“They’re brainwashing your children in public schools.”
“It is easier to come out as gay than come out as a Trump supporter.”
“Covid-19 is as much of a pandemic as 3 chihuahuas are as a pack of ferocious man-eating dogs. This event was a planned, politically motivated attempt to take control of the government.”
“Activism is a way for useless people to feel important.”
Ms. Chairwoman, despite what you may ignorantly believe, it is not easier to come as gay than to support Donald Trump. This is why LGBTQ+ youth have exceptionally high suicide. Covid-19 was not a “planned and politically motivated attempt to overthrow the government.” Rather, it is an incredibly infectious disease that has killed hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world, including family members of individuals past and present in this room. Finally, activism is not a way for useless individuals to feel important. Activism has led to the end of slavery and African Americans being granted civil rights, protecting workers from exploitation, equal rights within our society for women, and with the Supreme Court decision yesterday ensuring LGBTQ Americans cannot be fired for their sexuality.
I stand with many in this room tonight and throughout the community, including hundreds of online signatures, calling on the chairwoman to immediately resign. This divisive rhetoric does not reflect the values and ideals of Flagler County students, and we do not want someone who holds these beliefs as the leader of our school board. We don’t want you to represent us any further, this discriminatory behavior is inexcusable and unjustifiable. I ask you the board to rise up against this hateful behavior as well, including our new superintendent and truly ponder if this is the person we want in this position of power. These comments by the head of the board could be read by a student and cause them to question whether they are worthy and seriously affect their mental health. I’ll leave you with a quote tonight, “Words are seeds that do more than blow around. They land in our hearts and not the ground. Be careful what you plant and careful what you say. You might have to eat what you planted one day.”