A Northern California valedictorian's speech was abruptly cut off at a North Bay high school because she veered from the school administration's approved script.
Lulabel Seitz's speech on the Petaluma High football field June 2 started simply: "We’re all here today, and we’re graduating."
Seitz, who is headed to Stanford University in the fall, spoke of the struggles the senior class had been through together then began talking about a personal struggle: she had been sexually assaulted on campus, she says, and the school did nothing about it.
That's when someone pulled the plug on her microphone.
She then spoke of what they’ve been through: " ... for instance, the fires, which caused many of us to lose our homes and miss school. We didn’t let that drag us down."
Later, she started to veer: "We are not too young to speak up, to dream and to create change, which is why when some people on this campus, those same people ..."
The mic then cuts off.
When her classmates realized what was happening, they began chanting, "Let her speak!"
Seitz later finished her speech online. Here's what Seitz was going to say:
"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."
Seitz explained her motive.
"The person didn’t get any consequences, and he was even there at graduation watching me give my speech," she said. "And that’s just not fair to girls."
Principal David Stirrat said the school had been tipped off in advance that Seitz might deviate from her approved remarks.
Legal experts were split on whether the school had the right to stop the speech. Seitz has a strong case for challenging, they said, especially because she was not using obscenities or disrupting the crowd.
Seitz, 17, whose grandparents immigrated from the Philippines, is the first member of her family to graduate from high school.
She said she just wants the school to do more for its students.