Lulabel Seitz is a model student to most, an example of hard work paying off, and rising from humble beginnings to a valedictorian. Her commencement speech at Petaluma High School touched on the challenges students faced in the North Bay; fires and displacement, a teacher strike, and her own personal struggles to climb the educational ladder.
But one subject was taboo. Sexual assault at Petaluma High school and a permissive culture that incubates it. In fact it was so taboo that they actually cut her speech off.
You can see the commencement speech here
The Washington Post described the scene,
But it was in her next sentence that school administrators decided to silence. She began it by saying that “the class of 2018 has demonstrated 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 on this campus, those same people — ”
The mic cut off. The video shows the awkward silence that ensued on the field. After a few seconds, a few students in the audience stand and clap, with some beginning to chant, “Let her speak!”
According to the version of the speech that she read later and posted to YouTube, Seitz planned to say: “And 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. The class of 2018 has demonstrated 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.”
And please watch her uncensored speech here, and show Petaluma High School and other schools that our students can’t be squelched and that the effort to silence them will only amplify their voices.
Her speech was stirring, “we are not too young to speak up, to dream, and to create change.”
I applaud this young woman for living those words in the face of a school that wants her to be quiet, uneasy truths need to be bared and faced, not allowed to fester in dark corners and grow in the unacknowledged silence.
Congratulations Lulabel, though we don’t know you, we are proud of you.