Lulabel Seitz, 17, spoke at the podium during her high school graduation. Then she was silenced, video shows.
“We’re all here today, and we’re graduating,” was the opening line of Seitz’s speech Saturday as valedictorian of Petaluma High School in Petaluma, California, NBC Bay Area reported. She talked about perseverance and how important it is to “speak up” and “create change,” according to video of the speech posted by Seitz on social media this week.
"...Which is why when some people on this campus, those same people,” she continues. Then, about four minutes into the speech, everything goes silent, the video shows. The microphone has been cut. Faint chants of “Let her speak” start coming from the audience of students.
Seitz hadn’t run out of time to give her speech. She’d gone off the approved script, CBS San Francisco reported.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Assistant Principal Deborah Richardson told the Press Democrat that students had to audition for their speeches. Richardson says she told Seitz that the “speech you submitted is the speech you will give."
But Seitz said she was censored, the newspaper reported.
“I thought this is a public school with freedom of speech,” she told the newspaper. “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.”
Seitz, who's headed to Stanford in the fall, says she wanted to talk about her alleged sexual assault on campus, CBS San Francisco reported. She says the school did nothing when she reported it, according to the news station.
The school district said Thursday that “due to privacy issues,” it can’t respond publicly to the allegations, ABC 7 reported. Petaluma police Lt. Tim Lyons told the Press Democrat that they can’t comment on cases that involve juveniles.
Some students seemed to understand the school's decision to cut the mic, even if they mostly agreed with the content of the speech, ABC 7 reported. "She had good intentions," said fellow graduate Nicolas Mall. "But, where she did it may not have been the best place for it," he said.
Another valedictorian faced similar obstacles to delivering his desired graduation speech. Christian Bales was told he couldn't give his speech at Holy Cross High School in Covington, Kentucky because parts of it were too political. The Catholic school's council president, Katherine Frantz, couldn't give her speech for the same reason. They both gave their planned speeches outside the auditorium through a bullhorn after the ceremony.