High School Strips Valedictorian of His Title for Writing a 'Coming Out' Speech

A graduating senior at a Colorado high school was told that he would not be recognized as valedictorian or be allowed to give a speech at commencement, because he planned to come out as gay onstage. The 18-year-old claims he was only informed of the decision moments before he was supposed to speak, so there was no way he could object to the administration's ruling.

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Evan Young graduated from Twin Peaks Charter Academy High School on May 16 with the highest GPA in his class, but he was unable to receive the honor of being recognized as the valedictorian. He and his dad, Don Young, say that he was denied the opportunity to speak to the crowd because he wouldn't "remove the disclosure about his sexuality."

Evan said in his defense, "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 claimed that he had emailed his speech with other suggested changes, but school officials said they never received a revised version.

The school district issued a statement saying that "the first draft also included ridiculing comments about faculty and students and was condescending toward the school." School attorney Barry Arrington said in the same statement that he did not wish for Evan to "push his personal agenda on a captive audience" at graduation.

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We don't really have any way of knowing what Evan's original speech or the revised version said, but there's something even more disturbing about this whole scenario. Don Young said that before graduation, principal PJ Buchmann called him to tell him that his son was planning to come out as gay in his speech.

Evan hadn't told his parents yet. What right did the principal have to call his parents and tell them that? Why didn't he speak to Evan directly about it? It just seems weird. And in today's social environment, who cares if Evan came out as gay? And is that really a reason not to recognize him as valedictorian?

Of course schools can withhold honors or even diplomas if requirements haven't been met by the student, but this kid did the work. Doesn't he deserve to be recognized -- gay or not?

Do you think Evan Young should have been allowed to make his coming out speech at graduation?

 

Image via © Corbis

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