Lulabel Seitz thought she had the perfect platform to discuss her sexual assault at her California high school; the graduation speech that she earned by finishing as the class valedictorian.
School officials had another idea, cutting the microphone during the 17-year-old’s speech as she began to address the assaults. As NPR noted, the act of administrators at Petaluma High School has gained nationwide attention and plenty of controversy.
Seitz said that she was sexually assaulted on the school’s campus, but administrators did nothing about it when she reported the incident. She said the school had threatened not to speak “against them” in the graduation speech.
“The school continually censors students,” Seitz told KPIX-TV. “It wasn’t an easy thing to do to go up there and say what I said or tried to say.”
Seitz said her graduation speech also touched on the difficulties that other students had overcome in order to graduate, and her own graduation was an accomplishment in itself. Lulabel was the first person in her family to graduate from high school, and managed a 4.0 grade point average through high school. She was raised by a single mother, the child of immigrants from the Philippines.
Seitz’s story captured national attention amid the ongoing MeToo movement, which has empowered victims of sexual assault to speak out against the incidents. That led to plenty of criticism for the school’s decision to silence Lulabel, especially amid allegations that they did not properly investigate her assault allegations.
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 not the first time an act of graduation ceremony censorship has gained viral attention. Last month, a Kentucky valedictorian named Christian Bales was denied permission to speak at the graduation ceremony for his Catholic high school after administrators deemed his speech “too political.” Bales wanted to mention the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but school officials said the speech was not consistent with teachings of the Catholic Church.
So Bales took matters into his own hands, using a bullhorn to deliver the graduation speech in the school’s parking lot, as the Inquisitr reported.. The school’s act of censorship seemed to have backfired spectacularly, as Bales’ speech ended up attracting national attention after his unique form of delivering it.
Lulabel Sietz may have had the microphone cut during her speech, but she was still able to get the message out as well. As NPR pointed out, she uploaded her full speech onto YouTube, where it now has close to 50,000 views.