Gay Teen's Principal Tried To Shut Down His Graduation Speech

Photo: Courtesy of Comedy Central.
Colorado high school senior Evan Young wanted to use his valedictorian speech to come out to his classmates and community, an idea the principal of Twin Peaks Charter Academy High School wasn't into. After trying to force Young to remove any mentions of sexuality from his speech, the administrator banned him from speaking at the ceremony — and in the process outed Young to his parents.

Principal BJ Buchmann, according to Young, showed the boy's parents his speech while telling them their son would no longer be speaking at graduation. Buchmann did this before Young had the chance to come out to his parents himself. Fortunately, the Youngs were supportive.

Since news about Young's graduation was first reported by Democracy Now, some officials want to know if the school discriminated against the senior. Rep. Jared Polis, an openly gay member of Congress, has already called for an investigation into the school, according to ThinkProgress, which also found the school's lawyer to have long-standing connections to Christian conservative groups and Michele Bachmann's presidential political action committee.

According to the Associated Press, school board president Kathy DeMatteo said in a letter to Polis that Young was banned from speaking because of his "apparent intention to make a mockery" of the graduation ceremony, not for wanting to come out. The report doesn't say what part of Young's speech she found disrespectful.

Young did still have a chance to deliver his speech, even if he had to give it to a slightly larger audience than he'd prepared for. Larry Wilmore, host of The Nightly Show on Comedy Central, flew him out to New York and had him give the contested portion of his speech on TV Thursday night.

As you'd expect from a commencement address written by a teenager, Young's speech is a little bit goofy, but it's also sincere and optimistic — just like an 18-year-old who's about to graduate. "If there’s one thing I learned at this school, it’s that we can still be friends even if we profoundly disagree with each other,” Young said.
Photo: Courtesy of Comedy Central.
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