Petaluma High valedictorian cut off when graduation address turns to sexual misconduct allegations
The graduation speech of Petaluma High School’s 2018 valedictorian was cut off last week when her talk turned to allegations of sexual misconduct on campus.
Lulabel Seitz, 17, posted a YouTube video documenting her speech, as well as the “uncensored version,” which included a line about a campus “in which some people defend perpetrators of sexual assault and silence their victims.” Seitz did not divulge details about any incidents she was referring to or mention any specific names during her June 2 commencement speech.
“The administration unfairly cut off my mic, and even when my classmates stood up to say that I should speak, they still did not let me finish my speech,” Seitz says in the video.
Seitz began her address talking about the hopes and dreams of her classmates and how the school had struggled through a teacher’s strike and was forced to close during a wildfire that swept through Sonoma County last fall.
But then about four minutes into the speech, she mentioned the sexual assault allegations, which were not included in the draft of her address submitted to administrators prior to the graduation ceremony. That is when her microphone was cut off.
In the video, her classmates can be heard chanting, “Let her speak!”
School officials have declined to comment on the allegations Seitz mentioned in her speech. But the assistant superintendent of student services, Dave Rose, told the Press Democrat that the school was within its legal right to cut off Seitz’s speech, citing a 1998 U.S. Supreme Court case.
“If the school is providing the forum, then the school has the ability to have some control over the message,” Rose told the paper.
Get breaking news, investigations, analysis and more signature journalism from the Los Angeles Times in your inbox.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.