A student who graduated top of her class had her microphone cut while she was delivering a graduation speech in which she spoke about sexual assault.
Lulabel Seitz, from Petaluma High School in California, took her graduation speech as an opportunity to speak out about the way the school has dealt with sexual assault cases – including her own.
She spoke about a number of topics including coming from an immigrant family, and after almost four minutes began talking about sexual assault:
Because 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. Which is why, even when some people on this campus, those same people...
But at this point, her mic was cut, followed by exclamations of "let her speak" from the crowd.
She told CNN that at that point:
I felt like I was worthless.
The 17-year-old valedictorian says she was sexually assulted on campus but school administrators did not take action despite her formal compliants.
She said that school administrators warned her not to mention the sexual assault in her speech, reviewed a draft of her speech, and told her not to change it.
However, the night before the graduation ceremony she had been watching Martin Luther King speeches, and he had inspired her to say something.
The Petaluma City School District told KPIX in a statement that they cannot discuss specific instances because of student privacy issues, and said:
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. If an alleged event happens off campus or on, we work to support our students with appropriate discipline, extensive counseling, and whatever measures we can take to protect our students while they are in our learning environment.
Seitz, who has near-perfect grades and will be attending Stanford University, decided to upload her full speech on YouTube:
The Petaluma High School Administration infringed on my freedom of speech, and prevented a whole graduating class from having their message delivered.
For weeks, they have threatened me against ‘speaking against them’ in my speech. Sometimes we know what’s right and have to do it despite the threats.
You can listen to the entire speech, below: