Valedictorian Lulabel Seitz was giving her commencement speech at her graduation. It was full of passion and zeal — but some four minutes into her speech, the Petaluma High School administration abruptly turned her microphone off.
Seitz graduated with a GPA between 4.6 and 4.7 and got accepted in Stanford University, her school did not have a problem while she spoke about belonging from an immigrant family – but as soon as she wanted to address the alleged sexual assaults at her school, the administration silenced her voice.
On June 2, the entire class stood up for the valedictorian and chanted “let her speak!” after her speech was unfairly cut short. She can be seen, trying her level best to make the mic work again. But that doesn’t help.
"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…,” she said before her mic was abruptly cut off.
The 17-year-old claimed she was sexually assaulted on campus last year. The person was known to her. When she formally complained to the school administration about her ordeal, they did not take anything in consideration, neither did they take an action against the assailant.
Seitz said the school administration told her not to mention her assault during the commencement speech because it won’t help. "They just told me to not talk about it because it wouldn't help," she recalled.
David Stirrat, the school’s principal, told The Washington Post that all students submitted their speeches for approval beforehand. According to Stirrat, the students knew their mic would be cut off if they deviated from the approved script.
“In Lulabel’s case, her approved speech didn’t include any reference to an assault,” he said. “We certainly would have considered such an addition, provided no individuals were named or defamed.”
However, the school’s attempt to silence Seitz voice did not help. The valedictorian uploaded an uncensored speech on YouTube.
“And even learning on a campus in which some people defend perpetrators of sexual assault and silence their victims, we didn’t let that drag us down. 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, those same people defended perpetrators of sexual assault and silenced their victims, we didn’t let that drag us down,” she said in the video.
The school administration has not commented on Seitz sexual assault because of some so-called student privacy laws.
"The Petaluma High School administration infringed on my freedom of speech, and prevented a whole graduating class from having their message delivered," she wrote on YouTube. "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."
"This is about the bigger problem, not only about what I experienced. It was for everyone," she said.
People on social media have called out the school for trying to silence a courageous voice.
The truth will find the light of day @PetalumaHigh @PetalumaHS @Petk12schools even when you repress a #metoo truthsayer like #LulabelSeitz & cut her mic. Hang your head in shame. Thank god the next gen is ready to take the helm; your actions do not constitute leadership. https://t.co/d9vAagoBY6— Leslay Choy (@lcchoy) June 10, 2018
Lulabel Seitz is a fierce truth teller and they tried to silence her- don’t you understand sexual assault victims will be silenced no more???? High school valedictorian says speech was cut off when she began to talk about sexual assault https://t.co/3DXwng2nAe— Mira Sorvino (@MiraSorvino) June 9, 2018
Funny how while trying to silence someone makes them get louder #LulabelSeitz— HckyChck0002 (@HckyChck0002) June 11, 2018
“Let her speak ...” - often a necessary refrain when women speak truth to power. I have a feeling we’ll be hearing a good deal more from Lulabel Seitz as the future unfolds for this extraordinary young woman. #letherspeak https://t.co/WP7xRJRpMv— Wendy Davis (@wendydavis) June 9, 2018
It's an event that's divided Petaluma High School's community -- the decision to cut off Lulabel Seitz' speech. Now, the valedictorian is calling it a violation of free speech. https://t.co/mPpqW2P9rb— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) June 8, 2018
This is just so wrong on so many levels. What is being done about the sexual assault allegations? What is being done about what David Stirrat did to silence this student?— Ed T. (@edtomas1958) June 10, 2018
As valedictorian, she has earned the right to speak. How dare they try to silence her when it takes so much courage to do what she did.— Chelle Oh (@Cheezpaper) June 10, 2018
Sound like the school district is hiding something if they want to silence her— Gunnychief (@henleymerrill) June 8, 2018
Here's another valedictorian who wouldn't be stopped. When officials cut the mic on Lulabel Seitz 4 minutes into her speech, when she spoke of sexual abuse at school, the crowd chanted "Let her speak!" She recorded the speech & put it on YouTube. https://t.co/hSoiuXLd6f /3 pic.twitter.com/HNh6FNGYRp— David Beard (@dabeard) June 9, 2018
Thumbnail/Banner Image: Pixabay, McElspeth