Charter School Refused to Acknowledge -- or Allow to Speak -- Soon-to-be-Out Gay Valedictorian

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    May 30, 2015 3:51 PM GMT
    http://www.dailycamera.com/boulder-county-schools/ci_28209959/longmont-valedictorian-silenced-over-speech-disclosing-he-was

    Boulder Daily CameraA St. Vrain Valley charter school's leadership is under fire from gay rights activists and others for blocking a class valedictorian from giving a graduation speech in which he planned to out himself as gay.

    Evan Young, an 18-year-old graduating senior at Longmont's Twin Peaks Charter Academy High School, with a 4.5 GPA and a scholarship awaiting him at Rutgers University, also was not recognized as valedictorian at his school's May 16 graduation.

    Young said he had agreed to several advance edits to his speech by school Principal BJ Buchmann. But he resisted when Buchmann told him to also take out his disclosure of being gay.

    "One of my themes is that I was going to tell everyone my secrets," Young explained Thursday. "Most of the things were stupid stuff — books I never read that I was supposed to, or homework I didn't like. But then I gradually worked up to serious secrets.

    "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."

    Young said he emailed Buchmann with his revised speech with all but the one requested edit having been made, and did so several days in advance of the May 16 graduation ceremony.

    The school contends he failed to do so as required and that his presentation was canceled "to protect the solemnity of the evening and to preserve and protect the mission of the school."

    A statement released by the school's board of directors stated that Young failed to abide by pre-screening rules — and also "failed to follow guidelines of the evening by removing the sleeves of his graduation gown."

    A comment in that statement, attributed to school attorney Barry Arrington, said a graduation ceremony is "a time for family and those closest to the students to celebrate success and express mutual wishes of gratitude and respect. It is not a time for a student to use his commencement speech to push his personal agenda on a captive audience, and school officials are well within their rights to prevent that from happening."


    Pompousness and Circumstance!

    Boulder Daily CameraAccording to Young and his family, prior to the graduation ceremony, the principal called the student's father, Don Young — who has previously served on the charter school's board of directors — and outed the teen to his parents.

    "Mr. Buchmann called me and said, 'I've got Evan's speech here. There's two things in it that I don't think are appropriate,'" Don Young, an accountant, recalled. "One was he had mentioned another student's name. And then there was his coming out that he was gay."

    That was the first time in Evan Young's life that his parents had been given a clue about his sexual identity.

    Their son's sexuality, reported to them by their child's principal, was not earthshaking news to Don Young and his wife.

    "He's Evan, you know?" his father said. "He's never really expressed interest in either (boys or girls). He's just a teenager. ... But we had no indication beforehand."

    Initially, Evan's parents were somewhat sympathetic to Buchmann's decision concerning the speech.

    "His mother and I were not sure that his coming out in a valedictorian speech was the appropriate place to say it, with grandchildren and 3-year-olds in the audience, and that's kind of what we said to BJ," Don Young said.

    However, both Evan Young and his father said Buchmann only notified the student and his family a few minutes before the ceremony that his speech — or even a recognition of his status as valedictorian in the graduating class of about 30 — would not be part of the year-ending proceedings.

    "On the Friday, the day before the ceremony, I had written him (Buchmann) a handwritten letter so that he couldn't forward it," Evan Young said. "I'd told him I'm not going to remove the part where I say I'm gay, because I am. It's important to me. And I said if he has any questions, he can contact me by email over the next 24 hours or so.

    "He didn't ever email me back, and so I figured he must be OK with my speech."

    Evan's parents, now almost two weeks after the fact, aren't happy with the way the matter was handled by Buchmann, who could not be reached Thursday for comment.

    "The kid worked hard for four years," Don Young said. "Straight A's and everything else. He wasn't even recognized."


    Local LGBT advocacy group Out Boulder is providing an opportunity for Evan to present his speech this Sunday as part of a previously scheduled fundraiser.
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    May 30, 2015 4:05 PM GMT
    It's so sad that not only was he not allowed to give his speech, he wasn't even recognized as valedictorian during the graduation ceremony.

    I'd have to say that making the entire speech about his being gay probably wouldn't be appropriate, but I see no reason to prevent him from bringing up the issue and discussing it. Especially as he intended to frame it as, according to the article,

    "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."

    Americans need to get over this petty homophobia... being scared of even discussing the fact that homosexuality exists, as if people are afraid that homosexuality is an airborne illness.

    The sooner we can get over that and move on, the better. Unfortunately there are many powerful people who will fight tooth and nail to the bitter, bitter end over this.

    In any case, I'm glad Evan at least was given the chance to give his speech at another event.
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    Jun 01, 2015 5:09 PM GMT
    This is violation of his right to free speech. A charter school gets its money from the government so has to abide by the bill of rights. Private organizations do not (how they can keep gays from marching in St Patrick's day parades.)
    And I can't believe his dad thinks it's not OK for his son to come out in front of grandparents and children. Being gay is not gross or wrong or inappropriate. Discussing the mechanics of gay sex would not be socially appropriate. But saying "I'm gay" is no more or less offensive than saying "I'm Buddhist".
    There is nothing shameful about us. Saying "I love you but please don't embarrass me by talking about that gay thing" should be answered with "fuck you I refuse to act ashamed of myself."
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    Jun 01, 2015 5:33 PM GMT
    Dude shoulda left out the gay part in the edits, and ad libbed it in during the speech while explaining why it wasn't in the script. That would be epic.
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    Jun 01, 2015 7:08 PM GMT
    paulflexes saidDude shoulda left out the gay part in the edits, and ad libbed it in during the speech while explaining why it wasn't in the script. That would be epic.

    I agree, Paul. I've used that tactic many times. But a teenager doesn't yet understand all his options, authorized and not. A little civil disobedience can be good for the soul. icon_biggrin.gif
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    Jun 01, 2015 8:37 PM GMT
    I agree - and when they get mad that he "changed the speech they approved"...

    Let's see how that flies with people, someone being told by a "high school principal" what they can and cannot say that is true.


    Doctor9
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    Jun 02, 2015 2:45 AM GMT
    paulflexes saidDude shoulda left out the gay part in the edits, and ad libbed it in during the speech while explaining why it wasn't in the script. That would be epic.


    +1, the impetus of youth, and being naive.... shame that he is such a A's student, but not street smarticon_rolleyes.gif. I am not putting him down, I think he should have been able to say what he wanted, but again he wanted to play the honesty rule, but unfortunately the principal was not playing fairly, but being political. Hopefully, this will help him in the future.
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    Jun 02, 2015 4:22 AM GMT
    http://www.realjock.com/gayforums/4060162

    What really pissed me off is this gay bitch principal outing the kid to his parents. Luckily, this time it worked out, but that was none of his goddamn business.

    Being as gay is BJ Bachmann is himself (appx 58 sec in the video), he, especially, should have known better.

    Sure, I came out to everyone that would listen at age 16 (1970) except my parents .... didn't have to .... my brother did it for me. I would have at some point, but I just wasn't ready yet because I was afraid it would just break their hearts. It did. Not much in the way of any criticism though, but I've found out after they passed how much that hurt them.

    This is why I didn't read any of my mom's letters when we've been cleaning the house out after she passed. My sister sure did and made sure I knew about mom pouring her heart out in letters to a couple of close friends that she never mailed. I didn't know any of this until the last couple of months.

    Let the kid make the decision.

    Another guy I met at the Kismet (Columbus bar) in 1970 tried the same shit at a graduation from a high school down in Southwestern Ohio. Principal told his Armco Steel, redneck, democrat, union, United Steel Workers, southern Baptist father and the kid ended up with a 12 gauge at the side of his head. I guess they weren't ready. Let the kid make that decision. He has to live with it .... or die with it.
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    Jun 02, 2015 9:01 AM GMT
    The principal is an idiot.

    As a former valedictorian, I still recall a minor resentment that I was assigned a topic for my valedictory, while the salutatorian was allowed to make a speech of his choice (if anything, I thought the roles should have been reversed, if any assignments were being done at all.) Fortunately, I was not greatly opposed to the topic, so I did it. This was also, obviously, in the days where there was a valedictorian, not a cast of thousands as there is today. However, I remember thinking that I had earned the top spot and that part of the "reward" should be the freedom to craft a speech of my choosing of a valedictory nature.

    Over the years, I have heard few really memorable graduation speeches. I think Evan Young's speech might just have been one of those, had the stupid principal Buchmann let him make it!
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    Jun 03, 2015 9:06 PM GMT
    metta8 saidGay teen, valedictorian delivers coming out speech that was blocked by school

    http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2015/06/gay-teen-valedictorian-delivers-coming-out-speech-that-was-blocked-by-school/
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    Jun 03, 2015 9:09 PM GMT
    LGBTQ NationEvan Young delivered the speech Sunday at an awards ceremony held by the gay rights group Out Boulder in Colorado city.

    The Daily Camera newspaper (http://bit.ly/1FlPSTt ) reports that the crowd cheered during the speech, which ended with the 18-year-old asking people to hug someone different from themselves.

    Congressman Jared Polis was among those who commended Young at the event.


    Video: http://www.democracynow.org/2015/6/1/exclusive_gay_high_school_student_delivers
  • metta

    Posts: 39134

    Jun 04, 2015 2:30 AM GMT
    Different person:


    With school’s blessing, this valedictorian comes out as gay during graduation speech

    Emily-Bruell-gay.jpg?c027c9

    Emily Bruell, one of three valedictorians at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale, Colo., holds up a sign identifying herself as gay during commencement on May 30, 2015. She received a standing ovation when she came out as gay during her graduation speech in the Colorado mountain town of Carbondale.



    http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2015/06/with-schools-blessing-this-valedictorian-comes-out-as-gay-during-graduation-speech/
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    Jun 08, 2015 4:02 PM GMT
    continuing drama:
    Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, an openly gay Representative stepped in asking for a independent review. the school district hire an outside law firm which accused Polis of bullying the charter school.

    The reference article is from the Denver Post, a local newspaper that is socially conservative:
    http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_28250809/debate-over-colorado-gay-valedictorian-heats-up