Katelyn Campbell, a high school senior in Charleston, W.V, has asked for an injunction against her school principal after he threatened to call the college where she’s been accepted (Wellesley, by the way), and tell them she has “bad character.” Why does she have bad character? Because she spoke out against a religious, abstinence-only sex education assembly at her public high school.
Katelyn, who is her senior class vice president, refused to attend an assembly featuring Christian speaker Pam Stenzel (take a look at some of her YouTube videos and be appalled. One of the books on her website is called The High Cost Of Free Love! OMG!) Reportedly, Stenzel told students at George Washington High School that condoms weren’t “safe.” She also allegedly told these impressionable teenagers, ”If your mom gives you birth control, she probably hates you.”
Katelyn rightfully called the assembly slut-shaming when she appeared Monday morning on CNN. After she contacted media outlets about the offensive assembly, she said that her school principal, George Aulenbacher, called her to his office, berated her for her actions. and threatened to call Wellesley. Katelyn reports that the 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?”
Katelyn said of the incident with the principal:
“I said, ‘Go ahead.’ 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.”
She filed an injunction in order to prevent him from retaliating against her for exercising her right to free speech. Katelyn told the Charleston Gazette,
“West Virginia has the ninth highest pregnancy rate in the U.S. 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.”
Aulenbacher said he didn’t think any of what Stenzel said in the assembly was inappropriate. Reportedly, he and other staff members blocked the doors of the entrance to the gym (where the assembly was being held) and tried to prevent students from leaving. The assembly was sponsored by Believe In West Virginia, a faith-based organization and was reportedly advertised in the days before the event with fliers saying “God’s plan for sexual purity.”
I won’t even get into the fact that a faith-based organization paid for a Christian speaker to come speak at a public high school, as that’s only one of the myriad of egregious issues in this situation, including blatant psychological intimidation of teenagers. As ThinkProgress rightfully points out, abstinence-only sex education programs are doing nothing but harming students, families, and communities. These kinds of programs misinform kids about birth control, how it’s used and its effectiveness, effectively preventing them from taking precautions against STDS and pregnancy when they do (usually inevitably) have sex.
Katelyn is so brave and so badass for standing up to the idiots who run her school, as well as the idiots in this country who continue to think that teaching teenagers to keep their legs closed and their thoughts on God will do anything but breed shame, fear, ignorance and yup, unwanted babies. I’m in awe of her; I know I wouldn’t have been strong enough to do something like this when I was a senior in high school.
Wellesley, of course, is standing completely behind their future student, even tweeting a welcome to her with a link to the article from the local Charleston paper. It seems clear that Katelyn already exemplifies Wellesley’s tradition of smart, strong women; I can’t wait to see what she does when she’s in college. Keep fighting the good fight, Katelyn. We’re all behind you.
Photo: Public Health Ryan Gosling