At age 18, Emma González became a prominent gun control advocate after surviving the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14, 2018, in Parkland, Florida.
As a leader of the #NeverAgain Movement, González' activism gave rise to nationwide demonstrations and helped trigger a monumental shift in U.S. anti-gun initiatives.
The daughter of a Cuban immigrant, González was raised in Parkland. She identifies as bisexual and served as president of her high school gay-straight alliance. As a senior, González survived the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history. The massacre left 17 students and staff members dead and 17 others injured.
Just three days after the carnage, González courageously transformed her anguish into activism. She delivered an impassioned speech at a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, calling “B.S.” on politicians and the NRA. “If all our government and president can do is send thoughts and prayers,” she declared, “then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see.” The speech was broadcast nationally and went viral on social media.
In the following weeks, González became one of the most visible and outspoken student activists to emerge from the Parkland tragedy. As a leader and founding member of the student gun control advocacy group Never Again MSD—alongside Cameron Kasky, David Hogg and several others—González spoke out for gun reform during multiple high-profile media appearances. She helped organize March for Our Lives, a series of demonstrations that mobilized hundreds of thousands of protestors across the nation and around the world.
As a direct response to the Never Again Movement, the Florida Legislature passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Florida High School Public Safety Act, which established a new set of gun restrictions.
It marked the first time in 30 years that the state had passed gun control measures. On March 9, 2018, when the governor signed the bill into law, he said, “To the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, you made your voices heard. You didn't let up and you fought until there was change.”
During the summer of 2018, González traveled the country holding rallies for stronger gun control and to encourage young people to vote in the midterm elections. In the 18 months following the Parkland shooting, more than 65 new gun violence prevention measures passed in the United States.
González entered the New College of Florida in the fall of 2018.
“#InOurLifetime, we will fight for and alongside victims of gun violence, and we will prevail.”
(Editor's note: October is LGBT History Month, celebrated annually to recognize the notable achievements of LGBT people throughout time. Each day this month, Equality Forum will feature one LGBT icon who has made notable contributions to society and SDGLN will publish the story here in the Causes section. View previous LGBT History Month icons HERE.)