A California high school valedictorian posted a version of her graduation speech to YouTube after she says her school cut her microphone when she began to speak about issues of sexual misconduct.
Lulabel Seitz, who plans to attend Stanford University in the fall, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that she was “appalled” when Petaluma High School officials cut her microphone about four minutes into her speech.
“I thought this is a public school with freedom of speech,” she told the paper. “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.”
Video from the graduation ceremony last week shows attendees chanting, ”Let her speak!” after the microphone cuts out.
In the version posted online, which she labeled the “uncensored” version, Seitz briefly addresses “perpetrators of sexual assault” without naming any individuals.
“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,” she says in the video, “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.”
Principal David Stirrat told The Washington Post that Seitz and other student speakers were warned that if they deviated from their pre-approved speeches, their microphone could be cut off.
“In Lulabel’s case, her approved speech didn’t include any reference to an assault,” he told The Post. “We certainly would have considered such an addition, provided no individuals were named or defamed.”
Seitz, the first in her family to graduate from high school, told the Press Democrat that she was sexually assaulted on campus and wanted to criticize the administration’s lack of action in her speech.
School officials told the Press Democrat that the school has the legal right to turn off a student speaker’s microphone, but that it rarely done so.
“If the school is providing the forum, then the school has the ability to have some control over the message,” Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Dave Rose told the paper.