School administrators reportedly tried to silence the valedictorian of Petaluma High School in Petaluma, California, when she went off-script and talked about alleged sexual assaults on the campus.
Lulabel Seitz, 17, said administrators cut off her microphone about halfway through her speech to her graduating class, ABC News reported. She was about to say how the school allegedly fails to seriously consider victims' assault reports.
Seitz said she decided to publicly talk about being assaulted even though administrators allegedly pressured her to not mention it during her speech. They reportedly went as far as pulling her out of a class to give her a warning.
"They made all these rules to prevent me from speaking," Seitz told ABC News. "So I decided to use the opportunity to bring it up."
"They told me to be quiet; told me I can't talk about it," she continued. "I realized that this is a big injustice and needs to be spoken about."
About four minutes into her speech, Seitz began introducing the topic of sexual assaults. Administrators then allegedly cut the power to her mic.
In a video of her speech, some audience members are heard chanting, "Let her speak!"
Seitz decided to continue without a microphone, and later posted her full speech on YouTube. Instead of her #MeToo moment remaining a local issue, it has morphed into a national one.
Petaluma City Schools gave ABC the following statement:
Administrators and staff in Petaluma City Schools care deeply about the safety and well being of our students. 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.
When was she assaulted?
Seitz planned to bring up her account of a student that assaulted her last fall, she told ABC News.
Administrators did not suspend or expel her alleged assailant but instead pressured her to keep quiet.
"They told me not to speak about it," Seitz said.
The decision to publicly air her story was not an easy one, Seitz told media.