High School Outs Teen, Strips Him of Valedictorian Title for Being Gay

If you’ve ever sat through a valedictorian’s speech (in high school or college), you know that while their five minutes is supposed to be spent discussing things like “the future,” the speeches are also generally fairly personal. At Twin Peaks high school in Colorado, however, a teen was barred from speaking at graduation because he planned to come out as gay.

Evan Young is no longer angry at his school (or principal) for not allowing him to speak at his graduation on May 16, but the way he was treated would justify him being angry for a long time. According to The Daily Camera, Young was told that he could not be “honored in any way” at the commencement after his speech was deemed to be inappropriate for the event and the audience. Young’s speech, which focused on respecting everyone, regardless of differences, used his homosexuality as an example. That sounds fine, and he’s not the first teen to drop bombshells during their graduation speech, but his principal decided that what Young was planning to do was going to ruin graduation for the other 29 students in the graduating class.

Attitude reports that the school’s principal, BJ Buchmann, has no regrets about his decision and that the school’s attorney and school board have stated that Young’s speech was cancelled in order to keep the “solemnity of the evening” as well as prevent Young from “pushing his personal agenda onto a captive audience.” I fail to see how “respect everyone despite their differences, this is a thing I can speak to because I am gay,” is pushing an agenda or how it would really ruin everyone’s evening.


But that’s not even the worst part. No, the worst part is that the principal thought it was fitting to call and out Young to his parents before Young was ready.

From Attitude:

In an attempt to resolve the situation, Buchmann contacted the student’s parents, outing Young before he had had chance to speak with them.

‘My parents are very liberal. I think they were totally OK with it. But I was not OK with it,” Young said. “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.”

I don’t know where these people went for their sensitivity and cultural competence trainings, but outing a kid to their parent’s isn’t just a dick move, it’s also something that could potentially be dangerous.

Young, who has reached his “comfort level” on this, according to his parents, is no longer speaking to any media outlets about his experience. In a press conference on Friday (which he did not attend) his parents read an incredibly gracious statement he’d prepared.


From The Daily Camera:

“I’m not angry or bitter, and my frustration at being prevented from speaking at my graduation has largely subsided,” his statement read in part. “I love my school, and I want nothing to happen to it save that which will improve it in the long run.”

Young’s parents on Friday also voiced a tone of conciliation toward the school, where Don Young formerly served on the board of directors.

“We are unconditionally supportive of our child,” Alise Curry said. “We are also supportive of Twin Peaks charter school.


The entire statement can be read here. Young and his parents have stated that they don’t plan to seek action against the school in any way. OutBoulder has invited the graduate to read his speech at a private event. Regardless of Young’s feelings now, it is painful to watch his mother speak about the graduation above. Not only because Young was completely cut out of the ceremony, but because the principal told students that Young was removed from the program because he has “bad character.”

Contact the author at mark.shrayber@jezebel.com.

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I can’t believe how inappropriate the school has acted, and is continuing to act, by telling people the kid has “bad character.” Look in the fucking mirror, dickbags.

My commencement speaker (Tulane 2009 Roll Wave!) was Ellen DeGeneres. It was a lovely speech about loving yourself for who you are and not letting people tell you how to be. It is clear that the lifetime ramifications of shitty people telling the LGBTQ community they are unsatisfactory are too huge to describe. If Ellen still feels depressed sometimes, I can’t imagine how it can be for everyone else.