LONGMONT, Colo. (AP) — The Longmont school that barred a gay valedictorian from coming out during his commencement speech says it will investigate what happened but is defending itself against accusations of discrimination from Rep. Jared Polis.
The Twin Peaks Charter Academy announced the probe late Tuesday after Polis wrote to academy and school district officials suggesting one, saying that the school apparently violated Colorado’s anti-discrimination law by barring 18-year-old Evan Young from speaking at the May 16 ceremony.
School board president Kathy DeMatteo, writing to Polis, said 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. It beggars belief that you do.”
DeMatteo said Young was barred from delivering his speech not because he is gay but because of his “apparent intention to make a mockery” of the ceremony, and said his academic achievements were recognized in the event’s program and at another gathering.
In a statement Wednesday, Polis called for an independent investigation, saying school officials already had made up their minds and were “throwing Evan under the bus.”
The events in Longmont contrast with a decision by another Colorado school to allow its high school valedictorian to come out in her graduation speech. During her weekend speech in Carbondale, Roaring Fork High School graduate Emily Bruell received a standing ovation. Her principal, expressing concern about the high rates of suicide and other problems encountered by teens labeled as different, praised Bruell’s courage and said her speech would help all his students feel safe and accepted at school.
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