The Slatest

Valedictorian Says High School Cut Mic When She Tried to Speak About Sexual Assault

Lulabel Seitz speaks during her graduation from Petaluma High School in Petaluma, California on June 2, 2018.
Lulabel Seitz speaks during her graduation from Petaluma High School in Petaluma, California on June 2, 2018. Screenshot

Lulabel Seitz worked hard throughout her high school career to be standing in front of her classmates, friends, and family at graduation as the valedictorian. Yet what should have been a joyous occasion as she became the first member of her family to graduate from high school as a teenager turned into a moment of frustration four minutes into her speech. That’s when the her microphone was abruptly silenced as she began to mention that she had been sexually assaulted at the school.

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“Because the class of 2018 has demonstrated time and time again that we … are not too young to speak up, to dream and to create change,” the Petaluma High School graduating senior said in her June 2 speech. “Which is why, even when some people on this campus, those same pe…” and that’s when her microphone went silent. That’s when Seitz became upset and asked the crowd to stand. Some applauded while others chanted, “Let her speak!” After almost a minute of silence, the microphone was evidently not coming back on and Seitz returned to her seat.

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The 17-year-old graduating in Petaluma, California later posted a video of the cut off speech on YouTube and then included a full version of her speech. “Even learning on a campus where some people defend perpetrators of sexual assault and silence their victims, we didn’t let that drag us down,” she said.

Seitz told the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, California that she had been sexually assaulted by someone she knew on campus and was frustrated at what she described as the lack of action from the administration. “I thought this is a public school with freedom of speech,” she said. “This is for my class that stood up and said ‘let her speak.’ Even if the administration doesn’t give me a mic, I still want to speak.”

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The school defended its move to cut Seitz’s microphone, saying all students had to audition for their speeches and warned them that if anyone deviated from the approved words they were going to be cut off. “In Lulabel’s case, her approved speech didn’t include any reference to an assault,” David Stirrat, the principal of the public high school, told the Washington Post.
“We certainly would have considered such an addition, provided no individuals were named or defamed.”

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Seitz, who is heading to Stanford University to study applied mathematics and economics, received support from lots of people, including actress Mira Sorvino. “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????” Sorvino wrote on Twitter.

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