The class valedictorian at a Colorado charter school was blocked from giving his graduation speech to his classmates — which included an admission that he is gay — only to have the principal out him to his parents in a phone-call, reports the Boulder Daily Camera.
18-year-old Evan Young, who is taking his 4.5 GPA to Rutgers next year where a scholarship awaits him, agreed to several edits made to his speech by Twin Peaks Charter Academy High School principal B.J. Buchmann, but drew the line when told to take a out a section where he intended to come out as gay.
“One of my themes is that I was going to tell everyone my secrets,” Young explained. “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.”
According to Young, he emailed the revised speech to Buchmann — leaving in the portion about being gay — only to have the school deny him his speaker’s spot, saying it was done “to protect the solemnity of the evening and to preserve and protect the mission of the school.”
Young and his parents state that days before the graduation, Buchmann called the teen’s father, Don Young, and told him his son was gay.
“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,'” the elder Young recalled. “One was he had mentioned another student’s name. And then there was his coming out that he was gay.”
Young said he had no idea at the time that his son was gay.
“He’s Evan, you know?” Young’s father said. “He’s never really expressed interest in either (boys or girls). He’s just a teenager. … But we had no indication beforehand.”
While Young’s parents were initially sympathetic to Buchmann’s argument, they thought he handled it poorly.
As for Evan, he was less than happy with Buchmann for outing him to his parents.
“My parents are very liberal. I think they were totally OK with it,” he explained. “But I was not OK with it. 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. I thought it was very inconsiderate for him to do something like that, especially without asking me first.”
Dave Montez, the executive director of LGBT advocacy group One Colorado labeled the whole episode “disheartening.”
“I would say to the high school principal, outing someone to his family without giving them the opportunity to have that conversation, is dangerous and it can lead to terrible repercussions for LGBT kids,” Montez said.