A conservative, inflammatory and – of course – popular abstinence-only speaker, Pam Stenzel, was invited to speak at George Washington High School in Charleston, West Virginia.
Invited by the school's principal and hosted by a fundamentalist organization called "Believe in West Virginia," which advertised the event by circulating flyers with the tag-line God's plan for sexual purity, Stenzel's mission was to convince students that condoms aren't safe and that those who use birth control have mothers who hate them.
High school student Katelyn Campbell, a senior, had another mission: let students know her message was bunk. She filed a complaint with the ACLU and began speaking out against Stenzel's visit.
And that's when her principal began threatening her.
This from ThinkProgress:
A West Virginia high school student is filing an injunction against her principal, who she claims is threatening to punish her for speaking out against a factually inaccurate abstinence assembly at her school. Katelyn Campbell, who is the student body vice president at George Washington High School, alleges her principal threatened to call the college where she’s been accepted to report that she has “bad character.”The bravery of Campbell should not be underestimated, for her principal's threats were quite severe, particularly when viewed through the lens of a prospective college student.
Despite being threatened, Campbell is not backing down. She hopes that filing this injunction will protect her freedom of speech to continue advocating for comprehensive sexual health resources for West Virginia’s youth. “West Virginia has the ninth highest pregnancy rate in the U.S.,” Campbell told the Gazette. “I should be able to be informed in my school what birth control is and how I can get it. With the policy at GW, under George Aulenbacher, information about birth control and sex education has been suppressed. Our nurse wasn’t allowed to talk about where you can get birth control for free in the city of Charleston.”
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.Speakers like Stenzel cause irreparable harm by frightening students with misinformation into believing that contraception is dangerous; approximately 60 percent of teens are misinformed about contraception, and speakers like Stenzel and fundamentalist figures are often to blame for this.
Luckily for George Washington's students, this misinformation is coming to the fore, and students are rallying around Campbell's cause, planning to take the matter before the school board.
The assembly was supposed to publicly shame high school students. The ones being shamed now? School officials and a conservative speaker who has no business talking to a group of young people.