“If you use birth control, your mother probably hates you.”
“I could look at any one of you in the eyes right now and tell if you’re going to be promiscuous.”
Meet Pam Stenzel, the pro-abstinence speaker whose talk caused a controversy at a high school in Charleston, West Virginia, last week. At George Washington High School, student body president Katelyn Campbell refused to go to the mandatory assembly where Stenzel gave her anti-sex, anti-contraception lecture, and the actions that the school took against Campbell in response have once again called attention to the abysmal state of sex education in the United States.
Stenzel, as she explains in her talk, spent nine years as a “counselor” at a Crisis Pregnancy Center in Chicago before she started traveling the country and the world speaking about the dangers of sex and the virtues of abstinence. Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) are pseudo-clinics, deliberately designed to look like abortion clinics, where pregnant women are given free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds and told about the nonexistent connections between abortion and breast cancer, or abortion and infertility. CPCs, which are often funded by religious organizations, push pregnant women to keep their pregnancies so that they can either give the baby up for adoption or parent it themselves (for more on CPCs, read the inimitable Katie Stack, whose undercover videos of the clinics are jawdropping).
It makes perfect sense, then, that Stenzel’s talk is riddled with misinformation, outright lies and moralizing that shames people—mostly women—for wanting and having sex.
Katelyn Campbell was having none of that. After refusing to go to the assembly, she filed a complaint with the ACLU, and then she alerted the media. She called it “slut-shaming.” Then, the principal, a man by the name of George Aulenbacher, retaliated. He called Campbell to his office and berated her for what she had done:
He then allegedly threatened to call Wellesley College, where Campbell has been accepted, and tell them about her actions. “How would you feel if I called your college and told them what bad character you have and what a backstabber you are?” he said, according to the complaint.
“I said, ‘Go ahead,’” Campbell said Monday. “He continued to berate me in his office. I’m not an emotional person, but I cried. He threatened me and my future in order to put forth his own personal agenda and made teachers and students feel they cant speak up because of fear of retaliation.”
After this Campbell filed an injunction against him, and continued talking to the press, demonstrating as she did so that, despite Aulenbacher’s threats, she is precisely the kind of student a school like Wellesley would want to have. Campbell’s argument was that she and her fellow students deserve accurate, nonjudgmental information about sexual health, and she is of course absolutely correct (she didn’t tackle the fact that in a public high school, students were required to attend an assembly that was funded by a local Christian group and that clearly preached Christian sexual morality, which would appear to bridge the necessary separation between Church and State. Presumably, hopefully, that aspect of this controversy is under investigation).