This Texas valedictorian had the best high school graduation speech ever…
Paxton Smith initially planned to talk about media consumption in her preapproved commencement address at Lake Highlands High School in Dallas. But when the day came, the teen secretly switched the speech and instead pulled out one she wrote about a very important topic: abortion rights. Smith said to a crowd gathered on a football field:
“Under light of recent events, it feels wrong to talk about anything but what is currently affecting me and millions of other women in this state. Starting in September, there will be a ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, regardless of whether the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. Six weeks. That’s all women get.”
In case you didn’t know, Texas’ republican governor Greg Abbott recently signed into law an anti-abortion bill that prohibits abortions so early in the pregnancy that many women don’t even know they’re pregnant. Even more so, it allows people to sue anyone who knowingly violates this ban or any other abortion restrictions. This means total strangers could basically file a lawsuit against any friends and/or family who help someone obtain an abortion.
Yeah, we know, it is completely f**ked up.
Speaking on it, Paxton expressed she was scared of how the “heartbeat bill” could affect the futures of her and many other women, saying:
“I have dreams, and hopes, and ambitions. Every girl graduating today does. We have spent our whole lives working towards our futures, and without our input and without our consent, our control over our futures has been stripped away from us. I am terrified that if my contraceptives fail me, I am terrified that if I’m raped, then my hopes and aspirations and dreams and efforts for my future will no longer matter.”
“I hope you can feel how gut-wrenching it is. I hope you can feel how dehumanizing it is, to have the autonomy over your own body taken from you.”
Wow. Take a listen to the powerful speech (below):
After Smith’s delivery, a school district administrator told the Advocate Magazine that officials would look over the policies to “prevent something like this from happening again.” Let us all just eye roll here. They also added at the time how the school and district did not support her actions.
However, we don’t think that matters too much as Paxton has gained a ton of love on social media! A reposted TikTok video of her defiant speech has gained over a million views on Twitter, with many people also vocalizing their support online. Here are just some of the reactions (below):
This took guts. Thank you for not staying silent, Paxton. https://t.co/DlwEgmMRGN
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 2, 2021
Paxton Smith, ladies and gentlemen.
— Rex Chapman???????? (@RexChapman) June 2, 2021
This is so brave in a red state. Having graduated in one, I cannot imagine. Paxton Smith – way to seize your moment and articulate the connection between a woman's achievements, opportunities and control over her body. https://t.co/jz1BdlEvnC
— Megan Mayhew Bergman (@mayhewbergman) June 2, 2021
Paxton Smith!!! A Strong, brave young woman with a brilliant future ???? https://t.co/VLuLL3G2JV
— Lee-Ann (@LanLeeAnn) June 2, 2021
Paxton Smith was like I'm changing up my approved speech and I am here for it. pic.twitter.com/a38TEDg0sy
— Booksy Galore (@Cyntillate) June 2, 2021
This is bravery. This is action. This is the kind of young person I want to raise my child to be. Brava Paxton Smith!!! https://t.co/Bga4FIY6Eo
— Annie Morgan ????????️???? (@SacraMorgan1230) June 2, 2021
When given a platform you have a choice few will ever have the nerve to choose that chance to speak up. Paxton Smith made her choice to stand up!!!! https://t.co/E6fmXpfifh
— Melissa Ellen (@TrueCrimeHistry) June 2, 2021
We love to see it!! But what does the valedictorian have to say about her viral words? In a recent interview with D Magazine, Paxton explained how the attention feels strange, but she is still proud of what she accomplished on the stage:
“Whenever I have opinions that can be considered political or controversial, I keep them to myself because I don’t like to gain attention for that kind of stuff. But I’m glad that I could do something, and I’m glad that it’s getting attention. It just feels weird for me personally, that I’m linked to the attention that the speech got.”
It certainly took a lot of guts to put herself out there and speak from the heart about a serious subject like abortion rights, so it’s no surprise the video has become an online sensation. And we must applaud her for it!
What are your thoughts on Paxton’s amazing valedictorian moment?! Let us know in the comments (below)!
[Image via @littlewhitty/Twitter]