Valedictorian who blasted Texas' anti-abortion bill during her grad speech says she is shocked her mic wasn't cut off - and reveals she was accosted by 'upset' women after the ceremony who threatened to withhold her diploma

 A high school valedictorian who went viral this week for delivering a scathing condemnation of Texas's 'dehumanizing' new anti-abortion bill during her graduation ceremony says that she was 'shocked' that her speech was so well-received.

But though Paxton Smith, 18, says she was taken aback by all the cheers from audience members in her conservative area of Dallas, she admitted that some people were less than pleased — and two 'upset' women at Lake Highlands High School even pulled her aside to threaten consequences. 

'They seemed a bit upset and they told me that Highlands was holding my diploma, which was literally in my hand,' she told People. 'So I don't know what they were planning to do. Like rip it out of my hand?

'When I got home I was like, well, they're not getting it now,' she added.


Paxton Smith, a high school valedictorian from Dallas, Texas, delivered an impassioned speech at graduation in which she slammed Texas' newest anti-abortion bill

Paxton Smith, a high school valedictorian from Dallas, Texas, delivered an impassioned speech at graduation in which she slammed Texas' newest anti-abortion bill

Paxton earned praise from celebrities and politicians including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her speech, which came two weeks after Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into a law a 'fetal heartbeat' bill that would ban abortions after a first heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks.

The law would also allow anyone to sue a Texas abortion provider — or anyone who helped someone get an abortion, such as a family member or friend — for as much as $10,000 dollars.

Paxton had initially planned to deliver a speech about the media, which was approved by her school — but after the bill was signed, she says, she couldn't stop thinking about it and how upsetting it was.

So she spent two days writing a new speech and practiced countless times in the mirror, knowing there was a good chance that the school would silence her while she was on stage. 

'I thought that the microphone would be cut off before I had the chance to finish,' she told People.

But she did get to finish, sharing her thoughts on the 'war on my body and a war on my rights' and how 'gut-wrenching' it is 'to have the autonomy over your own body taken from you.'

'I am terrified that if my contraceptives fail, I am terrified that if I am raped, then my hopes and aspirations and dreams and efforts for my future will no longer matter,' she said. 


'I hope that you can feel how gut-wrenching that is, I hope that you can feel how dehumanizing it is, to have the autonomy over your own body taken from you,' she said of the bill

'I hope that you can feel how gut-wrenching that is, I hope that you can feel how dehumanizing it is, to have the autonomy over your own body taken from you,' she said of the bill

'Without our consent, our control over that future has been stripped away from us,' she said

'Without our consent, our control over that future has been stripped away from us,' she said

Paxton admitted that she was also quite nervous to deliver her address, saying: 'That day I was not the happiest camper, I was kind of dreading giving the speech.'

'And when I pulled the piece of paper out of my bra that I had the speech written down on, in that moment, I was just thinking, "Okay, here we go,"' she said. 

But she's 'surprised and very happy about how far this speech has gotten' and hopes it means more people will talk about the important topic of reproductive rights. 

She also had the full support of her father, Russell Smith, and her stepmom, Eunice, who had heard the speech a week earlier. 

Her dad told People that Paxton always speaks up when she seeks injustice, and she's always been 'very exceptionally strong of character, exceptionally strong of mind and will.'

In fact, in addition to playing trumpet in a competitive marching band, Paxton also joined the Boy Scouts as a sophomore when they began admitting girls that years.  

Paxton certainly made waves when she appeared on stage in a red cap and gown in front of a large crowd at her school's football field.

'As we leave high school, we need to make our voices heard,' she began.

'Today I was going to talk about TV and media and content, because it's something that's very important to me. However, under light of recent events, it feels wrong to talk about anything but what is currently affecting me and millions of other women in the state. 

Surprised: Paxton admits she thought the school would cut her microphone before she finished

Surprised: Paxton admits she thought the school would cut her microphone before she finished

Limits: Two weeks ago, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into a law a 'fetal heartbeat' bill that would ban abortions after a first heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks

Limits: Two weeks ago, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into a law a 'fetal heartbeat' bill that would ban abortions after a first heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks

'Recently, the heartbeat bill was passed in Texas. Starting in September, there will be a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, regardless of whether the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest.' 

For most women, the earliest possible stage they might even know they are pregnant is at four weeks. With irregular menstrual cycles, it may be longer before a woman would even consider taking a pregnancy test. 

'Six weeks,' Paxton continued. 'That's all women get. And so before they realize — most of them don't realize that they're pregnant by six weeks. 

'So before they have a chance to decide if they are emotionally, physically, and financially stable enough to carry out a full-term pregnancy, before they have the chance to decide if they can take on the responsibility of bring another human being into the world, that decision is made for them by a stranger. A decision that will affect the rest of their lives is made by a stranger.' 

She went on: 'I am terrified that if my contraceptives fail, I am terrified that if I am raped, then my hopes and aspirations and dreams and efforts for my future will no longer matter.

'I hope that you can feel how gut-wrenching that is, I hope that you can feel how dehumanizing it is, to have the autonomy over your own body taken from you. 

Top of her class: In addition to playing trumpet in a competitive marching band, Paxton also joined the Boy Scouts as a sophomore when they began admitting girls that years

Top of her class: In addition to playing trumpet in a competitive marching band, Paxton also joined the Boy Scouts as a sophomore when they began admitting girls that years

Speaking out: Paxton, who is set to attend UT Austin to study music business in the fall, is now going viral on social media

Speaking out: Paxton, who is set to attend UT Austin to study music business in the fall, is now going viral on social media

'I have dreams and hopes and ambition. Every girl graduating today does. We have spent our entire lives working towards our future, and without our input, and without our consent, our control over that future has been stripped away from us,' she said. 

'And I'm talking about this today, on a day as important as this, on a day honoring of 12 years of hard academic work, on a day when we are all gathered together, on a day where you are most inclined to listen to a voice like mine — a woman's voice — to tell you that this is a problem and it's a problem that cannot wait. 

'I cannot give up this platform to promote complacency and peace when there is a war on my body and a war on my rights,' she said.

'A war on the rights of your mothers, a war on the rights of your sisters, a war on the rights of your daughters. We cannot stay silent.

The end of Paxton's speech was met with cheers and applause from the audience, as well as a standing ovation from two students sitting behind her on stage. 

Speaking on the Today show on Thursday morning, Paxton explained why it was so important for her to seize the moment to talk about the bill. 

'I felt like, ultimately, there was no better group of people that I could talk to because I knew that in that audience there were people that were gonna disagree with what I had to say,' she said.

The teen advised other valedictorians to use the spotlight similarly. 

HRC approved: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shared a link to the speech, writing: 'This took guts. Thank you for not staying silent, Paxton'

HRC approved: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shared a link to the speech, writing: 'This took guts. Thank you for not staying silent, Paxton'

Texas fans: Former US Representative Beto O'Rourke thanked Paxton for 'inspiring Texas with your refusal to accept injustice as the price of participation in civic life'

Texas fans: Former US Representative Beto O'Rourke thanked Paxton for 'inspiring Texas with your refusal to accept injustice as the price of participation in civic life'

Former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis tweeted: 'Thank you for your courage, Paxton. You are absolutely correct - "we cannot stay silent."'

Former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis tweeted: 'Thank you for your courage, Paxton. You are absolutely correct - "we cannot stay silent."'

'Take advantage of the platform. Say what you wanna say, and say what you feel,' she said. 

Paxton, who is set to attend UT Austin to study music business in the fall, is now going viral on social media.

Comedian Sarah Silverman described the speech was 'brave,' and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote: 'This took guts. Thank you for not staying silent, Paxton.'

Former US Representative Beto O'Rourke of Texas added: 'Paxton, thank you for having the courage of your convictions and inspiring Texas with your refusal to accept injustice as the price of participation in civic life. May we all use our place in this democracy to fight for what we believe to be right and follow your example!'

And former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis tweeted: 'Thank you for your courage, Paxton. You are absolutely correct - "we cannot stay silent."'

Richardson Independent School District, of which Lake Highlands is part, said officials will review student speech protocols before next year’s graduation ceremonies.

'The content of each student speaker’s message is the private, voluntary expression of the individual student and does not reflect the endorsement, sponsorship, position or expression of the district or its employees,' it said in a statement.

Valedictorian who blasted Texas' anti-abortion bill during her grad speech says she is shocked her mic wasn't cut off - and reveals she was accosted by 'upset' women after the ceremony who threatened to withhold her diploma Valedictorian who blasted Texas' anti-abortion bill during her grad speech says she is shocked her mic wasn't cut off - and reveals she was accosted by 'upset' women after the ceremony who threatened to withhold her diploma Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 04:16 Rating: 5

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