PETALUMA (KPIX 5) — A Bay Area high school senior delivering the valedictory speech at her graduation had her message cut short when she began speaking about being sexually assaulted – allegedly by another student.
The student is now publicizing the incident and calling out what she says is the school’s inadequate response to the alleged assault.
Last week’s graduation ceremony was supposed to be one of the greatest moments of Lulabel Seitz’s life, until she says it became one of the worst. Seitz had gone off the approved script, mentioning teacher strikes and adversity. The microphone was cut as she began speaking of the alleged sexual assault.
“The school just censors people. The school continually censors students,” said Seitz. “It wasn’t easy thing to do to get up there and say what I said – or tried to say.”
Seitz said she reported the assault, but claims the school did nothing about it.
Officials at Petaluma High School would not go on camera today, but did issue this statement saying: “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.”
Seitz said administrators told her repeatedly beforehand that certain topics were off limits. But she decided to go there anyway, with her accused assailant – a fellow student – sitting in the audience.
“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,” said Seitz. “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.”
She posted the actual speech – as well as the rest of what she was planning to say – to YouTube. As of Thursday afternoon, the video had been seen more than 2,400 times.
Seitz said her message has gotten a lot of positive feedback, but she’s also some blowback because of the place she chose to deliver it:
“Graduation may not have been the spot to say it,” said graduate Nick Mall. “There was an opportunity for to, like, display her message to all of us … but we’re all celebrating us leaving, you know? And she was kind of taking it off into what happened to her.”
Seitz said she is still upbeat about everything and excited to attend Stanford in the fall. She says she has heard from many people who will be her peers at Stanford and that all have been very supportive.