18-year-old Evan Young was the valedictorian of his Colorado high school, but was banned from giving his graduation speech at the last minute because he planned to come out as gay in it.
Principal BJ Buchmann asked Young to edit his speech, which he agreed to do. However, he did not agree to omit the mention of his sexuality, leading Buchmann to cancel the speech and not even recognize him as valedictorian at the graduation ceremony.
“My main theme is that you’re supposed to be respectful of people, even if you don’t agree with them,” Young told local press. “I figured my gayness would be a very good way to address that.”
As if the speech cancellation wasn’t bad enough, Buchmann then proceeded to out Young to his parents before the teen could tell them himself. About the outing, Young said:
“My parents are very liberal. I think they were totally OK with it. But I was not OK with it. 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.”
Barry Arrington, the school’s attorney, proved that the charter school showed no sign of regret over its decision, stating that Young’s speech was not an appropriate time to “push his personal agenda on a captive audience.” The school’s board of directors took it a step further, saying that the speech had been cancelled in order to “protect the solemnity of the evening and to preserve and protect the mission of the school.”
Despite being denied the honors Young deserved after achieving a 4.5 grade point average, Colorado LGBT group Out Boulder invited the teen to deliver his speech at their annual awards event on Sunday.