A high school valedictorian claims she was censored when her mic was cut off whilst referencing an alleged sexual assault during a graduation speech.
Seventeen-year-old Lulabel Seitz of Petaluma, California told CBS News that she wanted the speech to, “remind her classmates of the obstacles they’ve overcome.” One of Seitz’s obstacles: an alleged sexual assault. Seitz claims Petaluma High School didn’t take the on-campus assault seriously enough, despite that she filed a police report. She also didn’t think the school did enough to protect her following her attack last fall.
So she went rogue.
“The class of 2018 has demonstrated time and time again that we may be a new generation, but we are not too young to speak up, to dream, and to create change,” Seitz said during her valedictorian speech. “Which is why, even when some people on this campus, those same people—”
Then, Seitz’s mic is cut off. A video taken during the event shows Seitz walking off the stage in frustration, while some in the audience shout, “Let her speak!”
Later, Seitz uploaded an uncensored version of her speech onto YouTube. She intended the cut off portion of her speech to include the following sentence: “Even learning on a campus on which some people defend perpetrators of sexual assault and silence their victims, we didn’t let that drag us down.”
“I was like, there’s gotta be something I can do to make this change,” Seitz said in an interview with CBS’s Mireya Villarreal. “Because if I could prevent this from happening to more girls, that would be good enough for me.”
School officials weren’t as inspired. Petaluma High School warned Seitz multiple times that her mic would be cut off if she went off the pre-approved script.
The school superintendent released the following statement regarding Seitz’s grievances: “Due to student privacy issues, we cannot and should not respond with specific information. We can say that when issues of sexual assault come to our attention, local law enforcement has initial jurisdiction and determines the course of action.”
In response to criticism that a graduation ceremony wasn’t the right time or place to talk about sexual assault, Seitz—exasperated—said, “Then what is the time or place?”