The Twin Peaks Charter Academy in Longmont, Colorado prevented its 18-year-old valedictorian from coming out as gay during his commencement speech, reported CBS News.
The school initially announced an internal investigation to determine if it violated the rights of 18-year-old Evan Young. However, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) pressured the school to seek an outside review of its actions to ensure an objective investigation.
Barry Arrington, a Denver-based lawyer representing the Twin Peaks Academy, sent a letter to Polis indicating that the school is hiring a law firm to look into the incident. He expects the investigation to be completed by July.
Young’s father, Don, became outraged when the school prevented his son’s coming out and doesn’t want to see the school exclude anyone based on their sexual orientation.
“What if next year’s valedictorian is gay?” said Mr. Young. “Let’s stop this now and be a safer school.”
CBS News noted that another Colorado school, this one in Carbondale, allowed one of their students to come out at its commencement ceremony. That student reportedly received a standing ovation after coming out to the entire school. The principal of the Carbondale school praised the student’s bravery and noted that many teen suicides could be prevented if all others were as accepting of everyone’s differences.
Despite other schools being more open, Twin Peaks board president Kathy DeMatteo doubled down on the school’s decision to censor Young.
Officials do not “believe that a discussion of a student’s sexual orientation – no matter what that sexual orientation happens to be – is a proper matter for a commencement address,” wrote DeMatteo in a letter to Rep. Polis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), LGBTQ teens are twice as likely to attempt suicide than straight teens. LGBTQ teens experience more bullying, ridicule, and victimization than other students. That torture makes young people more prone to contemplating suicide.
Schools like Twin Peaks do nothing to help the problem of gay teen persecution. By trying to keep it quiet, they only worsen the problem.