Colorado High School Cancels Valedictorian's Graduation Day Speech Because He Was Planning to Come Out

Comments

1
Our of sheer deference to one's parents, and to recognize that they would at least need some time to come to terms with their kid's homosexuality (it is a jolt, no matter how supportive they are) it is better to come out to family in private rather than unexpectedly in a speech at a graduation ceremony. If the kid was already out, no problem. It's simply a matter of being respectful and giving some time rather than having your parents suddenly on the spot trying to process the joy of the graduation and the swirling emotions (legitimate or not) from the coming out.
3
In case anyone wants to drop him a note.
http://www.twinpeakscharter.org/about/ad…

Or maybe the Board of Education for the School district:
http://www.svvsd.org/leadership/board-of…
4
raindrop - True, but a non-asshole principle would have called Evan in and coached him on the situation instead of simply canceling everything and blurting it out to his parents. He would have explained to Evan just as you did and made sure Evan considered alternatives, such as telling his parents privately beforehand so they can be as supportive of him as he needs, and letting it be a surprise to everyone else in the crowd.
5
@1 - We don't know if Evan was planning on the speech being the moment he came out to his parents. Maybe he was going to tell them shortly before. Who knows? But in either case, it's the kid's decision, not his principal's.

Pretty darn good speech, btw. Some silly high-schoolery in there, but still, a lot better than I could have done at that age. Not that I was ever in danger of being valedictorian.
6
Advice to any would-be edgy graduation speakers: Don't give the reviewers your actual speech.

I have a vague memory of my sister working on her graduation speech and having the principal or whoever ask her to change a line or two. I told her the same thing I would tell this guy; just tell them what they want to hear and then say what you want to say when the time comes. What are they going to do?
7
Don't worry Evan, It Gets Better.
8
So I am assuming to become a school principal you need to pass some kind of an asshole test, right?

It's like, "hey look, I got a 75% on the assholeometer. I can be a principal now!"
9
Thankfully, the news isn't all bad on this front today. The daughter of some old college friends of mine succeeded in coming out in her graduation speech. She was valedictorian of her high school

http://www.postindependent.com/news/1661…
10
The principal claimed that he didn't want the speech to be politicized. (Because mentioning he likes guys is political, but if he mentioned his girlfriend it would have been totally different.) But it's not just the outing or the cancelling of the speech that shows that the principal was an EXTREME ASSHOLE.

He didn't tell Evan or his parents that the speech was cancelled until minutes before the graduation.

The speech wasn't listed in the program for the ceremony, so it was clear that the principal made the decision to cancel the speech was made long before and her deliberately chose to delay telling Evan or his parents.

All references to Evan being class valedictorian were stricken from the program.

Not good enough to silence Evan. Let's try to pretend he doesn't even exist. Better to feign that the school doesn't have a valedictorian than to have to admit that the valedictorian is gay.

Principal BJ Buchmann of Twin Peaks Charter Academy in Longmont, Colorado, made a point in going above and beyond to be the biggest fucking asshole imaginable. And in doing so, he brought more attention to his school and his valedictorian's sexuality than he could have imagined.
11
I'm starting to wonder if the biker gang shootout in Waco and now this act of ignorance are just marketing stunts by David Lynch for the new series.
12
"It's simply a matter of being respectful and [blah blah blah]..."

Fuck you [respectfully] @1. If you're the kid with a 4.5 GPA, and want to come out to friends, family, and everyone else in a speech [y'know, a collection of words that expresses one's truth and experience] that you damned well earned the right to give, then your principle owes you some respect.

But thanks for the concern trolling.
13
If Evan was richer he could get on the cover of Vanity Fair
14
Oh my God, oh my God, oh my GOD. Asshole doesn't begin to cover it. I wonder if we're going to find out that Principal Asshole is gay himself. Methinks thou dost protest too much........
15
My school was much more clever - they just selected a Class Speaker. Happily, I would not have wanted then to give such a speech, and I won most of the book prizes for individual subjects.

***

M? Eyes - No Gertrude Award here, at least not yet. And we can do better than accusing anti-gay bigots of homosexuality exclusively over their bigotry.
16
BJ Buchmann sounds like a gay pornstar name.
17
Agree with @6. The speech I gave my principal was pretty different from the speech I actually gave. There's not a lot they can do once you get up and start talking.

That said, I disagree with the kid. The valedictorian speech is not about you (the speaker); it's about making everyone in the class feel good about graduating. So it's not the time to air anything you (the speaker) want to get off your chest.

Real life example: I toyed with the idea of "coming out" as an atheist to my Catholic high school in my valedictorian speech. That's why I gave the principal a fake speech, as mentioned above. Ultimately, I decided exactly what I said above: the speech is not about me, I'd be an ass to make it about me, and I should just leave all the students, parents, and grandparents with happy feelings. So I gave some schmaltzy feel-good speech that did just that.

Many many years later, I'm still proud about giving that speech. I consider it the point I went from self-involved teenager "raising issues" to a more considerate human being.
18
When I read the name of the principal, I immediately thought of former congress critter, Crazy Eyes & wondered if her husband had embarked on a new career.
19
@12: It's not concern trolling. Read @17.
20
@1 deference to the parents?

What about deference to the graduating senior. Graduating high school is a marker of the end of childhood (along with turning 18). Now he gets to make his own decisions. He's not a kid any more. And in case you missed it, he was the valedictorian with a 4.5 GPA. So I'm assuming he's a pretty smart guy. I bet he even gave some thought to when and how it was appropriate to come out to his parents. He knows his circumstances, his life, and his parents a whole lot better than you do. He gets to decide when to come out.

Oh, except now he doesn't. His principal decided to out him. His principal on many levels has proved to be an asshole. Not surprising you agree with him.
21
@20: Yes, the principal handled it badly. That has nothing to do with my point. The point is the class graduation and their hopes and their dreams. If you need further explanation, you're too self-absorbed that it wouldn't do any good.

Oh, and @12 - by it's own definition, there is no way to use the F word respectfully in polite society.

22
Oh hey look, it's a Charter school.
23
@1, but you'll notice it can be used facetiously.

And this isn't polite company. Thank god.
24
@23 - I saw you, or your identical twin/alternate universe double, in that that pink Stetson years ago at gay bingo at a S. Lake Union hall (I hope it's still there - great building). I did well that night as I recall.
25
As one of those principals (non-asshole, I hope) I agree, it would have been much better to take the kid aside, counsel him and help him talk to his parents. Then all of you can decide what to do. Telling your parents in such a public way is not, imho, ok. It isn't respectful of them at all. And from their reaction, they didn't appear to be douches. This principal missed a wonderful chance to help people grow and maybe a really amazing speech. At least it wouldn't have been another dull graduation speech.
26
@raindrop #1:
and to recognize that they would at least need some time to come to terms with their kid's homosexuality (it is a jolt, no matter how supportive they are)

No, it's just fucking not, and you really should be able to realize that without others explaining it. What you're claiming there is that it's simply impossible for anyone to view their child being gay as normal - becasue if that was possible, that would be the threshold level of 'supportiveness' necessary. We don't consider normal, expected things "a jolt". You have some homophobia - or possibly hangups around recognizing that your or others' offspring have sexualities that they will eventually express - that you've internalized; you might want to try to deal with it, but either way, please don't project it onto everyone else.
27
@26: Oh please. It's all about good manners. It has nothing to do with homosexuality or coming out. Those are tangential subjects. It's about the graduation. Not about the self.
28
@17 captured my thoughts on this. Principal is definitely a huge dick for deeming the student's disclosure of his sexuality 'political,' denying him recognition and his opportunity to speak, and outing him to his parents. No excuse for that guy. But separately from the issue of how the principal sucks and the student should have been allowed to give his speech, it's a pretty lousy valedictorian speech. The speech should be about the graduating class, not the valedictorian himself and his various accomplishments and confessions. But it's not terribly unusual for an 18-year-old -- even one at the top of his class -- to be self absorbed or miss the mark on a speech. So whatever.

@26 is ridic. Parents feeling overwhelmed or needing time to cope with their kids coming out has nothing to do with whether they recognize that we are 'normal.' Joining the peace corps is normal but I'm sure getting that news is shocking for many parents, too. And indeed, if the parent didn't yet realize that their child was gay then it's not a "normal, expected thing," it's an unexpected, but normal thing. And unexpected things of all kinds can be a 'jolt.' It's not unusual that affirming, loving parents of gay kids sometimes have to go through a process of adjusting their understanding of their child and their vision of that child's future, because they had previously made the statistically-not-unreasonable assumption that their child was straight. It doesn't mean that parent is making a value judgment about their child's sexuality. If a parent believed their child to be gay and was told the child was in fact straight, I would not be surprised to see a similar emotional response.
29
@28: Agree on the principal's dickishness. Didn't mean to suggest the kid was the primary wrongdoer here. I've been to many high school graduations (large family), seen many a valedictorian speech, and most of them are primarily about the speaker. I don't blame teenagers for being teenagers. I do blame educators for being assholes.

Also agree on not overwhelming people with news in public. Buuuut, reasonable people can disagree on this. For instance, both my wife and I think it's a tremendously asshole move to propose in public, where everyone can see you gape and where you're pressured to say "yes". Based on romcom plots and gossip mags, we're swimming against the stream here. :)
30
@29: Oops, didn't mean to suggest that you were suggesting that :-). I'm in agreement on all counts.
31
Many courts have ruled that "Free Speech" at school does not exist as off of school grounds.. The Principal has final say of events happening on school grounds. That includes, School newspaper, theater club,etc.

Tinker, et.al does not apply here. The Hazelwood Standard does. So the Principal has the legal right to censor speech on school grounds. Or school sponsored events.

Be that as it may. He, Principle should have spoken to the student. And, is a Graduating Ceremony the best place to tell your parents that you are gay? Instead of on the couch in the living room at home. Or, as Hollywood like to do. At the Dinner Table?

In my view, both the Principle and the Student get a Thumbs Down.