High School Valedictorian’s Mic Cut Off When She Talked About Her Own Sexual Assault

Let Lulabel Seitz Speak.

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Lulabel Seitz, valedictorian of Petaluma High School, was giving her commencement speech at her graduation ceremony when school administrators cut her mic. The reason? Seitz was talking about her experience of sexual assault and the school’s response (or lack thereof) to the incident. “I was disappointed in them,” said the 17-year-old, who posted a video recording of her uncensored speech on YouTube. Members of the crowd kept chanting “let her speak!” after school officials turned off her microphone.

According to Seitz, “they do this a lot, they make students be quiet”, whenever anyone is openly critical of the school. Seitz was sexually assaulted by a classmate, and while police charges were filed, Petaluma High School failed to take any action themselves. Her alleged perpetrator was still allowed to attend school as well as the graduation ceremony at which Seitz spoke. “They don’t really do anything to the perpetrator,” she said. And Seitz isn’t alone: several female students have complained about sexual assault and harassment to the administration, but have received barely a response.

Seitz was told that her speech had to be pre-approved, and anything negative in her draft would have barred her from speaking. Seitz had to fight just to include a passage on the teacher’s strike, which the school had originally blocked. “They pulled me out of my last class in high school to say ‘You can’t speak about how we treat sexual assault victims,'” she said.

While doing research for her speech, the valedictorian came across an iconic quote from Martin Luther King Jr. that spoke to her: “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” Seitz said, “I thought about that a lot, if I’m going to be quiet about this, that’s really sad…because it’ll just keep persisting. I wasn’t going to do it because they kept scaring me and threatening me. But I thought, if I don’t stand up for me and the other girls, then who is going to do it?” she said. “It was just a kind of a moral decision I had to make.”

Since posting her video, many on Twitter have spoken out in support of Lulabel Seitz:

Petaluma High School may have cut Seitz’s mic, but their actions have only served to amplify her message. This remarkable young woman will attend Stanford University this fall, and we wish her congratulations and the very best of luck.

(via Buzzfeed News, image: Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.