Leadership at Twin Peaks K-12 charter school outside Boulder, Co is under fire for banning its graduating valedictorian from giving a speech in which he would have come out as gay. Even worse, the school’s principal called the student’s home in the days before the ceremony and outed him.
Evan Young earned his spot behind the podium at his school’s commencement. The 18-year-old graduated with a 4.5 GPA and a scholarship awaiting him at Rutgers University. He planned on giving a speech themed around openness, honesty and acceptance, an irony given the fact that school Principal BJ Buchmann responded with the opposite.
“One of my themes is that I was going to tell everyone my secrets,” Young explained to the Daily Camera. “Most of the things were stupid stuff — books I never read that I was supposed to, or homework I didn’t like. But then I gradually worked up to serious secrets.
“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.”
Buchmann felt it was inappropriate for Young to come out at the ceremony, and requested that portion be taken out. Young stood his ground, and a few minutes before Young was to take the stage, he was informed the entire speech was canceled “to protect the solemnity of the evening and to preserve and protect the mission of the school.”
And here’s the real kicker — prior to the ceremony, Buchmann called Evan’s father, Don, who has previously served on the charter school’s board of directors, and outed the teen.
“Mr. Buchmann called me and said, ‘I’ve got Evan’s speech here. There’s two things in it that I don’t think are appropriate,'” Don Young recalled. “One was he had mentioned another student’s name. And then there was his coming out that he was gay.”
LGBT advocacy group Out Boulder’s board President Ann Noonan called the incident a “total violation of his educational privacy rights,” and the group is planning to host a private event to give Evan the opportunity to present his speech and be recognized as the accomplished and promising student that he is.
“I think what it mainly showed is that he didn’t have a lot of sympathy for me, or someone in my position. He didn’t understand how personal a thing it was, and that I wasn’t just going to share it with people randomly, for no reason,” Evan added.