Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) is injecting himself into the controversy over a Colorado charter school that refused to allow its 2015 valedictorian to give what the school calls a “disrespectful” and “inappropriate” address.
Polis, who represents a district which neighbors the school district Twin Peaks charter school is in, penned an aggressive open letter to the school’s administrators on official Congressional letterhead, calling for an investigation of Twin Peaks’ policies in regard to sexual orientation.
In the letter, Polis demands that “reparative actions…be taken to ensure that no student at Twin Peaks is discriminated against based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.”
He also sent a letter to Twin Peaks’ district supervisor, condemning the actions of the school as “violations of district policy, state law, and Evan Young’s basic right to privacy” and called for a “swift response.”
Polis has also demanded an external investigation into the incident and the school’s policies regarding sexual orientation. He claims an internal investigation may report inaccurate findings because the administration has already “made up [its] mind.”
Congressman Polis’ press team did not respond to attempts by Breitbart News to contact them.
Twin Peaks Charter Academy in Longmont, Colorado has been facing intense criticism from gay rights activists because it wouldn’t permit the Class of 2015’s valedictorian to give his commencement address on May 16. In the speech, Evan Young, 18, intended to come out as gay.
Young submitted his speech for review, but administrators told him that the planned content was inappropriate for the venue.
In a statement released to the media on May 28, the school said, “the Valedictorian failed to follow the guidelines established by the school. The initial draft of the speech submitted for review was condescending towards the school and the student’s peers and included, among other things, ridiculing comments about faculty and students.”
“The draft speech also included references to personal matters of a sexual nature,” the statement continues. “None of these topics are ever appropriate for a speech at a graduation ceremony.”
Local Colorado media and gay rights activists latched on to the story and focused on Young’s sexuality and the part of his speech where he outs himself.
The Daily Camera, a Boulder newspaper, published an article on the controversy on May 28. The story heavily quotes people close to Young, but only quotes the school’s statement twice.
Out Boulder, a local LGBT advocacy group, gave the student an opportunity to give his speech at a fundraising event.
Out Boulder’s executive director, Mardi Moore, said that the school’s administrators simply do not know what it is like to grow up gay, and that they are being “unfair” and “bullying” Young.
In the wake of the Daily Camera article, hate mail, insults, and calls for the principal’s resignation have been flooding the Twin Peaks’ principal’s mailbox. A source close to the controversy was able to send some of these to Breitbart News.
One letter berated the Twin Peaks’ administration, saying “You bigoted bastards. You are an embarrassment to Boulder County… Maybe you should move to Texas. You would fight right in with those inbred, backwards, hateful people.”
Another complained that this is an example of “fascists…infest[ing] the educational system via Colorado charter schools.”
One email simply called the principal “chicken shit.”
A caller on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, who was familiar with the details of the controversy, said: “It’s quite incredible, the steps these groups take to bully, intimidate, and threaten.”
For its part, Twin Peaks is standing up to the aggressive criticism.
Kathy DeMatteo, the president of Twin Peaks’ Board of Directors, wrote a lengthy letter in response to Polis’ claims about alleged discrimination against Young, in which she outlined point-by-point that Twin Peaks did not violate any rules or laws.
DeMatteo called Congressman Polis’ letter “false,” “inflammatory,” and “irresponsible.”
“We will not stand by and allow you to steam roll our excellent school with your accusatory remarks based on lies,” she wrote.
She also criticized the fact that Congressman Polis sent a copy of his letter directly to the media. DeMatteo claims that he sent out the letter so that it would be widely disseminated throughout the media, and prolong the story.
The school has set up a GoFundMe account to help raise funds for legal fees it may incur.