A Colorado valedictorian was blocked from delivering a graduation speech in which he planned on coming out as gay to his high school, and a review of the incident commissioned by the school concludes that he was not discriminated against. Evan Young, 18, was barred from delivering his speech by now-departed principal B.J. Buchmann after it was discovered that he planned on coming out and had prepared jokes that named specific students.
The school’s action has drawn wide criticism, including from gay U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., who represents the town's congressional district. The school, Twin Peaks Charter, is northeast of Boulder.
The 24-page report was written by attorney William Bethke, who was hired by the school board following the uproar. Bethke noted that the outcry surrounding the speech focused almost solely on Young’s sexual orientation and not on other aspects, including jokes at the expense of other students, according to the Daily Camera of Boulder, which first reported on the story.
Young “repeatedly evaded conversations that might have clarified the situation," and Buchmann lost "the trust that might have made the student more willing to engage," Bethke's report stated. Young provided the principal with the speech via a Google Document share. After Buchmann said he was uncomfortable with aspects of it, the student continued to edit the document, which appears to have been unknown to Buchmann.
In the process, Buchmann also told Young’s parents that he was gay, the Young family alleges. The report determined that that wasn’t a violation of privacy because he planned on coming out in front of the whole community anyway.
Young was later given the chance to deliver his speech, but not at the school. After the news came out that he would be barred from giving the speech, he was invited to speak at an event of Out Boulder, a local LGBT group.