WV School Presents Repulsive Abstinence-Only Assembly


With all the coverage of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, I almost missed this story out of West Virginia, where a high school held a mandatory assembly to yell at kids about how horrible it is to have sex. The assembly, which you can hear below, was mostly a woman named Pam Stenzel screaming at them.

Some of the information is accurate and important. Girls who get pregnant as teenagers are much less likely to finish high school, go to college and have a career. They are more likely to be poor. That’s important information that teenagers should know. But some of it is absolutely false. She claims, for example, that teen pregnancy leads to later infertility. There is no evidence for that claim at all, or for many others she makes:

“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.”

Campbell and a male student, who wished to remain anonymous, said Stenzel often screamed into the microphone and used an unsettlingly loud tone throughout the presentation.

“While her intentions may have been good, her tone was very loud, like she was shaming everyone in the audience. She was making girls cry. There were pregnant girls in the audience and she was implying, if you had sex, you’re not an OK person,” the male student said. “The only reason I am standing up against it is so other schools in West Virginia don’t have to hear this.”

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 diseaes 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.

To make all this much worse, a senior student at the school who refused to attend was allegedly threatened by the principal for being a troublemaker:

A student at George Washington High School asked for an injunction in Kanawha Circuit Court against the school’s principal Monday, after she alleges he threatened to call the college where she’s been accepted and tell them she has “bad character” for speaking up against an abstinence-only assembly held at the school last week.

Katelyn Campbell, the school’s student body vice president, refused to attend an assembly where Christian speaker Pam Stenzel told GW students “condoms aren’t safe” and warned that any type of sexual contact would lead to sexually transmitted diseases and cause women to be infertile, according to an audio recording of her presentation…

Campbell wants GW Principal George Aulenbacher to resign and apologize to the GW community, she said Monday morning during a news conference at the office of Charleston attorney Mike Callaghan, who is representing her…

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.

“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.”

And it turns out that the whole thing was paid for by a local Christian group. That doesn’t make it better, it makes it worse.

Comments

  1. glodson says

    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.

    His threat might not have any teeth. Found via WWJTD.

  2. mtsolomon says

    Reminds me of a similar “educational” assembly I had to attend when I was in Texas School. It consisted of an old man ranting about rap music and telling us we would all get STDs.

  3. tomp says

    Does this guy have so little knowledge of colleges in the USA that he didn’t know that Wellesley would be 100% on her side?

  4. Captain Mike says

    I’m going to stop by the trophy store on the way home from work today so I can purchase a trophy for Katelyn Campbell, and send it to her care of the school. I am 100 per cent serious. Any ideas for inscriptions?

  5. mareap says

    Why do I have the feeling that had he called them, the response from Wellesley would have been uncontrollable laughter?

  6. brucestephens says

    Presumably the theory is that since “just say no” has pretty much eliminated drug abuse, it ought to be similarly effective for unwanted teenage pregnancies?

  7. Larry says

    Wellesley has apparently tweeted the young woman that her place in the entering class is secure. Basically, they gave the finger to the asshole principal who obviously had no clue what Wellesley is all about.

  8. raven says

    Campbell said several students had recorded the presentation, where Stenzel allegedly made comments like, “If you take birth control, your mother probably hates you”

    Actually, her mother probably has or does use birth control Usage in relevant cohorts is 99% accordint to the US CDC.

    And for sure, her mother would rather she used birth control than turn up pregnant before finishing high school.

    West Virginia has a reputation for being a backward place full of knuckle dragging hillbillies. While that is a stereotype and probably not 100% true, this school and their officials certainly live up to it.

  9. Francisco Bacopa says

    I think it’s pretty hilarious that the principal would think anyone would give a shit. Still, gotta give props to everyone who spoke out against this assembly. More need to speak out. Maybe we remaining dispersed remnants of Occupy Houston need to teach the “mic check” to teens. It’s a damn impressive form of protest when you pull it off.

  10. says

    I think it’s pretty hilarious that the principal would think anyone would give a shit.

    I guess you missed the part about some of the girls being driven to tears.
    I know you mean well, but please try not to minimize abusive and illegal behavior. Yes, illegal.

  11. says

    I guess you missed the part where most of the people in this thread are talking about the principal’s ridiculous threat to ruin the young lady’s chances of getting into Wellesley college by calling them and saying mean things.

  12. ArtK says

    @ Jafafa Hols

    I think that Francisco was referring to the principal’s threat to call Katelyn Campbell’s future college. Unless said college was just as fundie-blinded as the principal was, the threat was pretty empty. I’m sure it stressed the young lady no end, especially since he called her into his office and berated her — the threat was part of a much longer tirade apparently.

    Since her future college is Wellesly, the threat goes from impotent to hilarious once you have a chance to think about it. I can think of few places in the US less likely to think badly of a student who stood up for what was right, particularly a young woman and on this topic.

    It’s the same level of hilarity I got from Rand Paul going to Howard University and lying about the Republican Party’s history with civil rights. The level of ignorance about the real world shown by the principal and by Paul deserves laughter and ridicule; especially since the alternative is crying that people that stupid and ignorant are in positions of power.

  13. says

    “Wellesley Sisters” started a petition at Change.Org:

    The Wellesley College community recently learned how you bravely stood up to your school principal to protest an abstinence-only assembly on campus. We’re sorry you were so harshly rebuked by school officials and other members of your community for exercising your right to free speech and advocating for women’s rights. We know this must be a challenging time, and we want you to know that your Wellesley Sisters stand with you.

    We applaud you for being an independent thinker – especially when people in positions of power discourage you from asking critical questions. We applaud you for speaking out on behalf of fellow students and for being their advocate. We applaud you for recognizing the importance of a woman’s right to information that allows her to govern her body and make autonomous choices about her health. We applaud you for taking a stand. We applaud you for your courage.

    That your principal would believe a call to Wellesley to inform them of this issue would be a threat to your admission status is laughable. In reality, your actions prove that the College couldn’t be a better fit. At Wellesley you will find students just like you: strong, independent, intelligent women who speak their minds and work to make the world a more just and equitable place. We’re all pretty sure you’ll feel right at home, and we’re so delighted that you’ll be joining our rich legacy of “women who will make a difference in the world.”

    Cheers to you, Katelyn, for joining the ranks of bold women who raise their voices. More than one hundred years of Wellesley College women, past and present, welcome you with open arms and a great deal of pride.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/katelyn-campbell-welcome-to-wellesley-college-we-think-you-ll-fit-right-in

    The fact that the school principal is a moron explains how this mandatory assembly came to be.

  14. says

    Does this guy have so little knowledge of colleges in the USA that he didn’t know that Wellesley would be 100% on her side?

    Authoritarians always assume that other people in positions of authority share their totalitarian mindset.

  15. leni says

    I’m stuck on that “your mother hates you” thing. Wtf? Just how detached from reality do you have to be to think that is an acceptable thing to say at a high-school assembly?

    My mother put me on birth control. I’m fairly certain it was not because she “hated” me. Although who knows. Maybe she’s just the worst murderer ever.

    For what it’s worth. The second I started playing the video my cat bolted out of the room. Even he knows it’s bullshit and that screaming it does not make it easier to listen to.

  16. Loqi says

    What? Doesn’t talking fast and loud make whatever you say true?

    Of course it does. It says so right here in the Bill O’Reilly School of Debate handbook!

  17. Francisco Bacopa says

    Thanks everyone for clarifying what I meant. While I am certain that this assembly was horrible to experience and that it can’t have been fun to be called into the office and berated by the principal, I still say the principal was totally clueless when he thought that Wellesley would give a shit about his “negative character reference”.

    Pretty smart of Campbell to lawyer up. I think she’s gonna do just fine.

    And I totally meant it when I said we need to create teen radicals. I love how Campbell and others spoke out, but with better intelligence and planning they could have done a mic check that got out an alternative message.

  18. raven says

    Well it was a teaching moment for the kids anyway.

    They learned that some adults in authority are clueless idiots who will lie and make baseless threats.

    They learned Hitchen’s rule by example. Religion poisons everything.

  19. Rip Steakface says

    @24

    Intel? As someone in high school, I will tell you the first thing that we don’t care about is assemblies, especially ones with any sort of motivational or moralistic speaker. When we hear assembly, all we think is, “well, at least we’re out of class for a bit,” and I guarantee that a quarter of the crowd would put in headphones as soon as they saw this person speaking. We wouldn’t have cared enough ahead of time to put together anything like that, not even the most activist among us (like my girlfriend and I).

    I suppose if we had been properly warned by whatever methods (Facebook, perhaps, though I don’t have one), it would be possible to do that, but more than likely the human microphone would be shouted down by either administration or the speaker for being “disrespectful” or “disruptive.” A better move would be a simple walk-out. That’s easier to get people involved in, and it still shows how little you care for her backwards views on sexuality.

  20. dingojack says

    So this was a voluntary assembly, right? ‘Cause the school realises that a mandatory assembly bought and paid for by a religious group would be unconstitutional and they could get sued big-time, right?
    Dingo

  21. caseloweraz says

    A comment from the excellent WV Gazette reporter Ken Ward, Jr: “Daily Mail reports that this group paid, http://www.believeinwv.org/index.php/about/board-of-directors … Among their board of directors is Greg Thomas, a right-wing political consultant who previously worked for Don Blankenship.”

    Here’s how believeinwv.org introduces the abstinence howler: “Pam Stenzel, founder of ENLIGHTEN COMMUNICATIONS, Inc. tackles today’s tough issues of sex with candor, insight, humor, and the challenge for young people to get the abstinence advantage.”

    Presumably candor, insight, and humor come at a slightly higher fee than George Washington HS paid.

  22. dingojack says

    “Pam Stenzel, founder of ENLIGHTEN COMMUNICATIONS, Inc. tackles today’s tough issues of sex with candor, insight, humor, and the challenge for young people to get the abstinence advantage”.

    They seem to use ordinary English words, but with completely different meanings in Wingnuttia.*

    Dingo
    ——–
    * Does America have they equivalent of The Trades’ Practices Act? Perhaps the school could sue on the basis of the lack of the promised ‘insight’, ‘humor’ or ‘candor’ in the presentation (ie harangue) delivered.

  23. DaveL says

    “I could look at any one of you in the eyes right now and tell if you’re going to be promiscuous.”

    If by “promiscuous” she means having sex outside of marriage, then I can do the same trick. It’s practically every one of them, at some point in their lives.

  24. lofgren says

    “80% of teen girls will choose to parent children while they are teens.”

    But don’t worry, folks! We’re working hard to take that choice away from them. We’ll have that number up to 99% in no time!

    Incidentally, according to the CDC that number is closer to 3%.

Leave a Reply