Target: L. Wade Linger, President of the West Virginia Board of Education
Goal: End mandatory attendance of factually inaccurate abstinence assemblies
West Virginia high school senior Katelyn Campbell recently found herself in a frightening position when her principal at George Washington High School threatened to punish her for refusing to attend an abstinence assembly. Abstinence assemblies are school-sponsored assemblies in which abstinence is presented as the only approach to teen sexuality. Campbell alleges that her principal threatened to call a college to which she had been accepted to report her as a person of “bad character.” The assembly in question was hosted by conservative speaker, Pam Stenzel, who is funded by a conservative religious group and noted for her abstinence-only approach and inflammatory rhetoric. Students must be encouraged to engage critically with their education, not fear speaking out against factual inaccuracy.
Stenzel’s presentations are alleged to contain inflammatory rhetoric about teen sexuality and birth control. For instance, her presentation and George Washington High School reportedly claimed that condoms were not safe, and that all instances of sexual contact would lead to transmission of infections. On the subject of birth control, Stenzel claimed that she could “look at any one of [the students] and tell if [they were] going to be promiscuous,” and that “if [students] take birth control, your mother probably hates you.” In response to what she felt was “slut-shaming,” Campbell refused to attend the assembly and filed a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union about such school sponsored events. For her efforts, Campbell found herself in the principal’s office.
Campbell alleges that principal Aulenbacherl threatened to call Wellesley College, where she had been accepted, and tell them she had “bad character,” and was a “backstabber.” In the office, Aulenbacher also scolded Campbell to the point of tears. As Campbell recounts, “he threatened me and my future in order to put forth his own personal agenda and make teachers and students feel they can’t speak up because of fear of retaliation.” In response, this brave young woman has filed an injunction against her principal in the hopes that he will think twice before threatening her again. In the meantime, a twitter update from Wellesley College states “Katelyn Campbell, Wellesley is excited to welcome you this fall.” While Katelyn’s story seems to be heading to a happy ending, the idea that students are being threatened, misinformed and shamed about their sexuality is outrageous. Please sign the petition below to demand a reprimand of Principal Aulenbacher and to put an end to factually inaccurate, inflammatory abstinence assemblies.
Dear President L. Wade Linger,
Recently, senior at George Washington High School, Katelyn Campbell, was threatened by her Principal George Aulenbacher, fur refusing to attend an abstinence assembly. This assembly was sponsored by conservative religious group Believe in West Virginia and hosted by Pam Ketzel, who is noted for her use of inflammatory rhetoric to disseminate misinformation. Her abstinence-only philosophy, in concert with her “slut-shaming” mantra, is both factually inaccurate and creates an uncomfortable atmosphere for the students.
For his part, Principal Aulenbacher threatened to jeopardize Katelyn’s future by reporting to Wellesley College (to which she had been accepted) that she had “bad character” and was a “back stabber.” Driven to tears, Katelyn has filed an injunction against her principal, but that is not enough. Teachers and Principals must protect their students from threats, not do so themselves. Moreover, they must allow students to critically examine the materials that are put in front of them, not blindly accept them for fear of retaliation. Please take action to end all abstinence assemblies and reprimand Principal Aulenbacher for his inappropriate behavior.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Adam Gessaman via Flickr