Evan Young, 18, was denied by Twin Peaks Charter Academy to give his valedictory address that revolved on coming out as a gay. On May 31, he was given the opportunity to give his speech at a private event for the Out Boulder awards ceremony.
Twin Peaks Charter Academy blocked speech of gay high school valedictorian
Young was the valedictorian of his class of 30 students. He has a 4.5 GPA and a scholarship to Rutgers University. However, he was denied the opportunity to give his speech for his graduation ceremony.
Twin Peaks Charter Academy said that the first draft of Young’s speech submitted to the school board was condescending in tone and had hints of mockery in it. Attorney Barry Arrington, representing the school, said a valedictory speech is not a channel where a student should push his personal agenda. Hence, school officials are well within their rights to prevent that from happening.
“Everyone knows that in our society, high school graduations is one of life’s most significant occasions… time for family and those closest to the students to celebrate success and express mutual wishes of gratitude and respect,” Atty Arrington said in a statement.
“It is not a time for a student to use his commencement speech to push his personal agenda on a captive audience,” he emphasized.
Gay high school valedictorian speech finally heard
On May 31, Young’s rejected speech was finally heard, Daily Camera reported.
Young has injected a couple of jokes within his speech, making his sense of humor obvious to the crowd. He joked that getting a “B” in art did not diminish his all “A’s” quest for high school since “art isn’t a real class.”
He thanked Coca-Cola for the “delicious caffeine” that kept him awake while studying. He then said that Coke will not pay him for that advertisement, saying “unlike Hilary Clinton, I don’t make millions of dollars for flapping my lips.”
“On a more serious note, there is something I would like to reveal to you. You may have already suspected this, but I hope this does not change your opinion of me. I am gay. I’ve been attracted to men for as long as I can remember, and I’ve never had a girlfriend, because I prefer members of my own sex … and that’s my biggest secret of all. I’m gay. I understand this might be offensive to some people, but it’s who I am. And whether you’ve always suspected this or this is a total shock to you — now you know,” Young’s speech went.
“We can still be friends, even if we seriously disagree with each other,” Young said in ending his speech.
Young is bringing his story forward
Young told ABC 7 News Denver he is not mad at his school.
“This isn’t about me getting revenge on people. This is about just increasing acceptance for people like me in the community. And I think that’s why I think that’s what I accomplished,” he said.
“I’m bringing my story forward so that it may serve as an inspiration, not only to other LGBT students, but to any student who is in some way different. I want them to know they should not be ashamed of who they are. They can celebrate their uniqueness, no matter what people in authority tell them. They can achieve academic success, if they let nothing hold them back. They can become virtuous and compassionate; their differences don’t make them morally inferior.”
Young’s father said that he has no issues with his son being gay but he was hurt when his school denied him the opportunity to give his speech during commencement exercise. He said his son worked hard for the whole duration of his high school but it was painful that he was not even recognized.
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