PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — With the Florida legislative session about three months away, there is already talk from Florida Senate leaders about expanding the "Parental Rights In Education" law, which critics call the "Don't Say Gay" measure, to cover additional grade levels.
But one Palm Beach County high school student and member of the LGBTQ+ community said she wouldn't let it knock her down.
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Homecoming may have been months ago at West Boca Raton Community High School, but winning homecoming king as a female left a lasting impression on Taylor Adelman, showing her it was bigger than that one moment.
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Adelman said she wasn't thinking too much of it when she and a friend decided to run for homecoming king and queen, until she got some backlash.
"There were a couple guys at the top of the bleachers, and I could see them laughing and making fun of me, and people posting online, 'a girl shouldn’t run for king,' and a lot of people reposting," Adelman said. "And that’s when I realized, if I’m getting hate, clearly I'm doing something I should be doing."
Adelman campaigned just like any other king candidate. Then it was homecoming night, and Adelman got the crown.
"It was insane. I don’t even know how to express that emotion. It felt like a dream," Adelman said.
"What did that mean to you?" WPTV education reporter Stephanie Susskind asked Adelman on Monday.
"A lot. It meant a lot to other people, too," Adelman said. "I had a lot of support afterwards, which blocked out everybody that was hating, It was awesome."
What made it more significant to Adelman is that her win was on the heels of the state passing the "Parental Rights In Education" law, known to critics as the "Don't Say Gay" bill.
"How have things like that impacted you?" Susskind asked Adelman.
"It makes me feel closeted almost. It makes me feel smaller that people can’t express how they feel," Adelman replied.
But now, Adelman's homecoming king victory has empowered her.
"One of the first thoughts in my head when I won was, 'I just stepped all over that bill,'" Adelman said. "And it being written in the same year that I won, it just made it 10 times better."
"I’ve got her crown mounted above her bed, and I've got her banner hanging next to the TV, and I'm super proud," Scott Adelman, Taylor's dad, said.
While Scott Adelman said he had some concerns for the reaction from others at first, love for his daughter melted that away.
"She’s taken the step to step outside the bounds of the norms to be herself, be true to herself, that she’s got a voice," Scott Adelman said. "She’s got the intelligence and she’s got the popularity to get to where she wants to go, and she’s got a loving home to grow."
Taylor hopes this can show others that they don't have to be afraid to be who they are.
"It's been amazing. I'm so happy it could happen, and not even just because I won. But a lot of people need to see that, like, they can do it," Adelman said.
During a meeting with the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation last week, the Palm Beach County School Board spoke about its priorities for the upcoming session.
Those priorities included asking Florida legislators not to enact new laws that would negatively impact students because of their gender, race, religion, or ethnicity.
During that discussion, school board member Erica Whitfield expressed her concerns with the legislation coming out of Tallahassee.
"I know you all don't want to hurt children in the process, but some of the things coming out of Tallahassee have been very hurtful to them. And it scares our families and our kids," Whitfield said. "And so what I'd ask is be cognizant of that as you're making legislation for this upcoming year. Don't enact any legislation where you're not thinking about the concerns of these students."