Traditionally the student with the highest academic record is invited to address their peers at the end of the final school year in the US.

However, Evan Young - the 18-year-old valedictorian at the Twin Peaks Charter Academy in Longmont, Colorado - was banned from giving his speech because he wanted to announce that he was gay.

When Young refused to omit that part of his speech, the school's headteacher then allegedly phoned the boy's father and prematurely "outed" him and then refused to acknowledge him as the valedictorian.

However, after outrage across the US, Young was finally given the chance to give the speech he had wanted to in front of hundreds of people at the annual fundraiser for the gay rights group Out Boulder on Sunday.

Here's what he said:

You may have already suspected this, but I hope this does not change your opinion of me: I am gay.

I understand this might be offensive to some people, but it's who I am. And whether you've always suspected this, or this is a total shock to you, now you know.

When I was writing this speech, I was endlessly debating with myself whether I should reveal this, on account of how divisive an issue this is and how gay people tend to be stereotyped, and I thought that, if I did, I should repeatedly apologize and beg you guys not to think any differently of me.

But then I realised: I don't have to. I shouldn't have to. If there's one thing I learned at this school, it's that we can still be friends even if we profoundly disagree with each other.

  • Evan Young

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