An inflammatory abstinence-only presentation at a West Virginia high school is drawing national attention after a high school girl who spoke out publicly against it was allegedly berated to tears by the school principal.
George Washington High School Senior Katelyn Campbell filed a complaint with the ACLU after Pam Stenzel, a religious conservative abstinence-only activist, gave an inflammatory and scientifically inaccurate presentation about why students should only practice abstinence as the only way to prevent STDs and pregnancy. Campbell and other students report that Stenzel engaged in “slut-shaming,” suggested “that any type of sex will guarantee the contraction of an STD or an unwanted pregnancy,” and told girls at the assembly that “if you take birth control, your mother probably hates you” and “I could look at any one of you in the eyes right now and tell if you’re going to be promiscuous.”
According to The Charleston Gazette:
“In her YouTube videos, Stenzel says birth control makes a woman “10 times more likely to contract a disease . . . or end up sterile or dead.” Many of the videos warn of sexually transmitted diseases and also say, “Sex could damage you for the rest of your life.” Sex also could lead to “scarred fallopian tubes and cancer . . . and you need to ask Jesus for forgiveness.” In addition, Stenzel points to anorexia, bulimia and “cutting” as after-effects of abortion.”
The way Stenzel made students uncomfortable in an attempt to scare them with false information inspired Campbell to speak out and file the complaint. But that’s not the end of the story.
Campbell is also filing an injunction against her principal for allegedly berating her until she broke down in tears and threatening her collegiate future all because she publicly spoke out against the abstinence-only presentation. Think Progress reports that Principal George Aulenbacher allegedly threatened to call Wellesley College, where Campbell has been accepted to study in the fall, after she spoke to the press about her objections to the assembly. According to Campbell, her principal said, “How would you feel if I called your college and told them what bad character you have and what a backstabber you are?” Campbell alleges that Aulenbacher continued to berate her in his office, eventually driving her to tears. “He threatened me and my future in order to put forth his own personal agenda and make teachers and students feel they cant speak up because of fear of retaliation,” she said of the incident.”
Campbell went on to say that comprehensive sex education has been “suppressed” at her school and that even the school nurse is barred from giving information to students that would help them protect themselves if they choose to be sexually active.
It’s sad that in the 21st century there are still schools and states that have a backward view in regards to sexual health and sex education. Studies have shown that states with abstinence-only programs as the only form of sex education have the highest teen pregnancy rates and the highest concentration of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV. Abstinence-only programs simply do not work and are pushed primarily by fundamentalist Christian groups who have a biblical view of sex instead of a view based in reality. That biblical view is only backfiring and is harmful to young men and women who enter sexual maturity without the knowledge or resources to protect themselves. Instead of teaching these teens how to realistically protect themselves, conservatives would rather they get diseases and unwanted pregnancies that lead to increased abortion rates.
Katelyn Campbell is a hero for speaking out against a viewpoint that does more harm than good for the youth of America. She is strong for advocating for comprehensive sex education and she will undoubtedly do very well in Wellesley College, which announced via Twitter that Campbell doesn’t have to worry about her future with the school.
Any educator should be in favor of comprehensive sex education. Those who oppose do not belong in our schools. Furthermore, a principal who threatens a student for exercising their right to speak freely undermines the entire education system in America. Schools are the first places where students learn about how to be responsible citizens, where they are taught to think for themselves. Punishing students for these things only weakens future generations of Americans who have many challenges ahead of them beyond sex ed.