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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Maybe God Didn't Notice What Twin Peaks Charter Academy Just Did To Its Valedictorian!

Yahoo posted an article today entitled "The Controversial Reason a High School Canceled Its Valedictorian's Speech" by Samantha Cowen (http://news.yahoo.com/controversial-reason-high-school-cancelled-valedictorian-speech-164016528.html). According to Ms. Cowen, "Colorado senior Evan Young was a model student. He finished his high school career with an impressive 4.5 GPA and a scholarship to Rutgers University, and he was named Twin Peaks Charter Academy High School’s valedictorian." Unfortunately (in the opinion of the school board and principal), the draft of Evan's speech made clear that he was about to reveal to the world that he had achieved all of that as a homosexual.

Apparently, this was just too much information for the school board. After an unsuccessful attempt to censor that portion of the speech (Evan refused to omit it), they decided to cancel the speech altogether at the last minute. According to the article, they issued a statement explaining that their decision was designed, "to protect the solemnity of the evening and to preserve and protect the mission of the school." Adding insult to injury, the principal contacted the young man's parents and revealed their son's sexual orientation before he had had a chance to tell them himself.

Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether or not the Almighty took notice of what happened to Evan (and whether or not "He" approved of the school's behavior), I was struck by the number and tenor of the comments this article generated on Yahoo. Many of the 3,471 comments (when I went to press), were of this nature: "Why do gay people feel the need to announce to the world their sexual preferences?" "A graduation ceremony was a very bad place to make such a confession/outing. The ceremony was about GRADUATION, NOT about being gay." "I have no problem with him being gay. But, this day wasn't about his "coming out", it wasn't JUST about him. I'm not sure the administration viewed it that way, but he should find a different venue for his announcement."

I was under the impression that most heterosexuals feel no need to "announce" their sexual orientation because most of them consider that to be the "normal" orientation - no big deal. Most homosexuals have not had this experience. I was not "out" in high school, but I was still subjected to name calling, hurtful remarks and crude jokes. Hence, the need to "proclaim" one's orientation does not arise from some innate tendency towards exhibitionism; but from the stigma that our society has attached to this orientation in particular and things sexual in a more general sense. In short, those loathsome individuals (homosexuals) are expected to keep their heads down, their mouths shut and to know their place! As a consequence, most homosexuals find it liberating to stand up and say that they are not ashamed of who they are, and that they are tired of being dishonest about who they are so that other folks don't have to be annoyed by knowing!

Is it possible that Evan's speech might have inspired or helped other homosexuals in his class or other classes across these United States? Is it possible that Evan's speech might have inspired or helped other heterosexuals in his senior class? "Wow, look at what this guy has accomplished in the face of societal pressure to conform." OR "I've always liked and admired this guy - I never knew he was gay - Maybe all homosexuals aren't nasty little abominations?"

As for what is appropriate for a Valedictorian's speech, I was under the impression that our Constitution guarantees freedom of speech. Are these folks saying that school boards should be in the business of censoring speech? Are they suggesting that educators should be the arbiters of what is appropriate/acceptable for public discourse? Should schools be limiting what their students are exposed to in the realm of ideas/opinions? If the answer is yes to these questions, where do we draw the line? How does one grow in grace and knowledge without being exposed to differing views/opinions?

According to Wiki's "How to Write a Valedictorian Speech" (http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Valedictorian-Speech), the student should: "Avoid trying to write something that doesn't reflect your true self. You have plenty of time ahead to keep shaping yourself the way you wish to be seen by the world. But your classmates know you for who you are now and all that you have striven for throughout high school is the sum of you, so don't set aside your true self in favor of trying to sound all grown up or pseudo intellectual all of a sudden." Sounds like good, sound advice to me!

As for God, I think that those who believe themselves to be on "His" side in this matter would do well to ask themselves a few questions: Is sex or sexual orientation a dirty or shameful thing? Did God design sex and sexual attraction or not? Is anything that God has designed or had a hand in an inappropriate topic for public discussion? Does God value sincerity and truthfulness? Is it ever appropriate to lie or deceive others? Does God expect us to inspire and help each other along life's path? Is it ever appropriate to miss an opportunity to help others? If God intended for some things to remain private, why did "He" choose to reveal so many intimate and embarrassing details about the lives of his saints and prophets in Scripture for everyone to read about? Were those things recorded so that others might benefit from their experiences and examples (good and bad)? Is anything in this world capable of contaminating or defeating God's people other than our own stupidity? (I'm thinking here of some things that Paul wrote on the subject)

But don't worry Twin Peaks, maybe God wasn't paying any attention to what you did for graduation this year!


  1. In their statement on "Guiding Principles & Founding Philosophies," Twin Peaks Charter Academy proclaims that their educational programs will follow the Six Pillars of Character and/or a curriculum that is based on a Character First type of program. For those who are not familiar with these concepts, I will provide a brief summary:
    Six Pillars: 1) Trustworthiness, 2) Respect, 3) Responsibility, 4) Fairness, 5) Caring and 6) Citizenship (https://charactercounts.org/sixpillars.html)
    Character First:
    Attentiveness, Availability, Boldness, Cautiousness, Compassion, Creativity, Deference, Dependability, Determination, Diligence, Discernment, Discretion, Enthusiasm, Flexibility, Forgiveness, Generosity, Gratefulness, Hospitality, Initiative, Loyalty, Obedience, Orderliness, Patience, Persuasiveness, Punctuality, Resourcefulness, Responsibility, Self-Control, Sensitivity, Sincerity, Thoroughness, Thriftiness, Tolerance, Truthfulness, Virtue, Wisdom (http://characterfirsteducation.com/c/about.php)
    Hmmm, I'm thinking that it would be relatively easy to make the case that they have violated their own principles in the way they treated their valedictorian.

  2. Thanks for a wonderful article. More of us need to speak up and stand out.
    Roy and Mark

  3. If you would have known what he was truly going to say in his speech maybe you would see a different side. Everyone needs to know the whole story before they start placing blame

  4. As indicated in a follow-up post, I've listened to the speech he would have delivered that day; and I still don't think that the school's decision was consistent with the principles and philosophies they claim to follow.