High School Student Fights Back Against Abstinence Speaker at Assembly, so the Principal Threatens to Warn Her Future College About Her

***Update***: An audio recording of Pam Stenzel’s talk at the high school can be heard here:

It’s incredible that some public high school administrators still haven’t learned how to vet assembly speakers to make sure they’re not spouting religious-based nonsense.

In Charleston, West Virginia, George Washington High School recently brought in Pam Stenzel to speak about the importance of making good decisions.

Unfortunately, in Stenzel’s mind, abstinence is the only good decision when it comes to sex, and anyone who’s had any sort of sexual contact with someone they weren’t married to is going to pay the price for it.

Just check out what she says at the 3:10 mark in her promo video below:

If you have sex outside of one, permanent, monogamous… partner who has only been with you… If you have sex outside of that context, you will pay. No one has ever had more than one partner and not paid.

Bullshit. Sex, by itself, isn’t a bad thing. You have to be emotionally ready for it. You should know how to protect yourself. You should know that abstinence isn’t a dirty word if you choose to stay that way. But having sex doesn’t make you a bad person.

That’s not what Stenzel told the students, though:

Pam Stenzel, a Christian speaker dedicated to teaching teens about “the consequences, both physical and emotional, of sex outside of marriage,” told GW students in an assembly [last] Tuesday that if they have had any premarital sexual contact, they’re “impure,” student Katelyn Campbell said.

“Many students felt uncomfortable with her outright condemnation of any and everyone who has ever had premarital sexual contact,” Campbell said. “Stenzel’s overall attitude was that any type of sex will guarantee the contraction of an STD or an unwanted pregnancy.”

Campbell said several students had recorded the presentation, where Stenzel allegedly made comments like, “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.”

Katelyn Campbell (Chris Dorst – The Charleston Gazette)

So Stenzel isn’t just preaching nonsense, she’s marketing herself as an expert without knowing the facts about her subject.

Furthermore, students were essentially forced to attend this assembly:

Campbell said fliers about the event were passed out to students a day prior and promoted “God’s plan for sexual purity.” Typically, students are allowed to stay in class with a teacher’s supervision if they do not want to attend an assembly, she said, but it was insinuated that students had to attend this assembly.

[Principal] Aulenbacher and members of the school’s staff blocked the gym entrance and told students who tried to leave that they had to stay the entire time

Stenzel cost about $4,000-$6,000 to bring to the school, but the administrators said the event was “sponsored by private donations.” In fact, it was paid for by Believe in West Virginia, a local Christian group. (Surprise, surprise.)

Campbell, a senior at the high school and student body vice-president, is the brave hero of this story. She’s talking to the ACLU. She’s letting the public know what Stenzel was preaching. And the principal of the school tried to punish her because of it:

West Virginia has the ninth highest pregnancy rate in the U.S.,” Campbell said. “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 [principal] 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.”

Aulenbacher called Campbell to the principal’s office after she contacted media outlets about the assembly and said, “I am disappointed in you” and “How could you go to the press without telling me?” according to the complaint.

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.

Unbelievable. Aulenbacher is doing everything a principal should never do — he brought in an unqualified speaker, wasted students’ time by making them attend the talk, and then threatened a student who was doing the right thing by going to the media about it.

Katelyn doesn’t just deserve to attend Wellesley; she deserves a scholarship for standing up against bad sex education, against the idea of slut-shaming, and against her administration.

And if the principal thinks Wellesley would be upset about what Katelyn is doing, he doesn’t know the school at all.

(Thanks to Brian for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.