A Colorado charter school refused to let a class valedictorian give a graduation speech in which he was planning to come out as gay, prompting scrutiny from activists.
Evan Young, 18, agreed to make some changes to the speech he planned to deliver on May 16 at the school’s commencement ceremony for Twin Peaks Charter Academy in Longmont. However, the Daily Camera reported he refused to remove the disclosure about his sexuality.
"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 were not told that Evan Young would not be allowed to speak or be recognized as valedictorian until just a few minutes prior to the start of the ceremony.
Evan Young said he had previously emailed a speech with other suggested changes to school officials, but the school maintains it did not receive a revised copy.
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 did not know their son was gay. There were initially sympathetic to the principal’s objections to the speech, considering there would be young children at the event, but did not like how he 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report