LONGMONT, Colo. — A Colorado charter school refused to let a class valedictorian deliver a graduation speech in which he planned to come out as gay, prompting criticism from activists.
Evan Young, 18, said he agreed to make some suggested changes to the speech he planned to deliver on May 16 at the commencement ceremony for Twin Peaks Charter Academy High School in Longmont. But he refused to remove the disclosure about his sexuality, the Daily Camera (http://bit.ly/1FefRfm) reported Thursday.
“My main theme is that you’re supposed to be respectful of people, even if you don’t agree with them. I figured my gayness would be a very good way to address that,” he said.
He and his father, Don Young, said they weren’t notified until just a few minutes before the ceremony that Evan Young wouldn’t be allowed to speak or be recognized as valedictorian.
Evan Young said he previously emailed a speech with other suggested changes to school officials, but they contend that he didn’t submit a revised version.
In a statement, the district said the first draft also included ridiculing comments about faculty and students and was condescending toward the school. School attorney Barry Arrington said in the statement that a graduation speech is not the time for a student to “push his personal agenda on a captive audience.”
Before the ceremony, Don Young said school principal PJ Buchmann called and said the speech was a problem because his son had mentioned another student’s name and planned to come out as gay.
Don Young said he and his wife didn’t know their son was gay. They were initially sympathetic to Buchman’s objections to the speech, considering there would be young children at the event, but did not like how Buchman handled the matter.
“It’s wrong, and it’s not fair,” said Mardi Moore, executive director of Out Boulder, a gay activist group. “The young man has all but a 4.5 GPA; he has told me that since a toddler he has worked for that honor, and they denied it.”
Out Boulder has asked Young to deliver his speech at an annual awards event on Sunday.