At George Washington High School in West Virginia, students were required to attend an assembly where abstinence-only speaker Pam Stenzel told students that if they take birth control, their parents hate them; that condoms aren’t safe; and bringing some members of the audience to tears by shaming and scorning those who had ever had sex. The assembly was funded by a conservative religious organization and advertised with fliers that proclaimed “God’s plan for sexual purity.”
Katelyn Campbell, a senior, was not having it; she has filed a complaint with the ACLU and spoken out against the Principal for subjecting students to this absurd performance.
We’ve known for years that abstinence-only speakers receive thousands of dollars to come to school and preach and moralize at teens, without providing any real and useful information. Derek the Clown, Keith Deltano the cinderblock-on-your-crotch guy, and Pam Stenzel are just a few examples of the phenomenon, often paid for by taxpayers.
The fact is that abstinence-only programs do more than just tell kids not to have sex. They impose an entire ideology on students who didn’t ask for it – an ideology in which men are dominant and unable to control their own impulses; women are either modest and submissive, or they get what they deserve; those who have sex are dirty and gross (who can forget about drinking the spit!) and LGBT students, at best, don’t exist.
Katelyn was right not to tolerate it. And her high school’s principal should be ashamed – both for hosting the speaker in the first place, and for his subsequent threats to call her colleges and tell them she’s disloyal and a troublemaker. (The college doesn’t seem too upset, by the way)
Troublemakers. That’s what students are called when they challenge a system that tries to control their health and their bodies. But today’s young people know that the myths and moral strictures surrounding sexuality are not just silly, they’re dangerous. This is trouble that needs to be made – and youth activists are brave and smart enough to do it.