A California high school senior graduated last week holding a sign that read, “Rapists don’t belong @ graduation,” a move she said was to shame her district for allegedly allowing classmates accused of sexual assault to attend the ceremony.
Sofia Rossi, 18, held up the sign as she walked across the stage at the ceremony on Friday at Los Gatos High School, SF Gate reported.
“I wanted to show the survivors of sexual violence in the audience that the school allowing perpetrators to walk at graduation was not acceptable,” Rossi wrote in an email to the outlet.
“We had to hear administrators read the names of student assailants and listen as hundreds of people applauded them. I couldn’t let the survivors watching think that’s what they deserved, to watch their abuser be celebrated as they walked across the stage.”
Rossi, who is a co-founder of the sexual abuse support organization From Survivors, For Survivors, said the group had launched a petition that urged the school to ban “student rapists” from school events, such as graduation ceremonies and proms.
“Clearly, the school didn’t listen to us because well-known perpetrators walked at the ceremony just like everybody else,” she told the outlet.
The protest came after Los Gatos student Mia Lozoya came forward last month with an accusation of sexual assault against an upperclassman, NBC News reported.
Lozoya filed a police report, but an investigation didn’t find enough evidence to file charges against the accused student, the outlet reported.
Michael Grove, superintendent of Los Gatos-Saratoga Union School District, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.