A California valedictorian claims her graduation speech was cut off by school officials because it addressed sexual assault.
Lulabel Seitz, who finished top of her class of 304 at Petaluma High School and is headed to Stanford in the fall, said she deviated from an approved speech in a bid to speak to the issues that matter to her.
One of those issues was what she believes was her school administration's weak response to accusations of sexual assault she made against a fellow student.
With that student in attendance, Seitz prepared to say the following:
“The Class of 2018 has shown 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. Which is why, even when some people, those same people defended perpetrators of sexual assault and silenced their victims, we didn’t let that drag us down."
Before she could complete her speech, Seitz's mic went dead.
“The school just censors people," Seitz told KPIX. "The school continually censors students. It wasn’t easy thing to do to get up there and say what I said — or tried to say.”
In an interview with CBS This Morning, Seitz said she made the decision to go off-script when she got on stage and saw the face of her attacker.
"I see the boy who assaulted me," she said. "And then I see just a lot of people watching and they're like, 'Well what am I going to do now?' I'm like, 'I'm going to take my stand.'"
Administrators have not addressed her accusations publicly but said Seitz, and all other student speakers, were warned ahead of time they'd be cut off if they veered from their approved speeches.
“Due to student privacy issues, we cannot and should not respond with specific information. We can say that when issues of sexual assault come to our attention, local law enforcement has initial jurisdiction and determines the course of action," school officials said.
Petaluma High School reportedly said that “sexual assault claims are reported to the police and the school follows up on a case by case basis according to state education code.”
Seitz says she has no regrets. She has even posted the entirety of her speech on YouTube for anyone to watch.
She says the feedback has been largely positive.