Every teenage girl deserves the best future she can attain. Therefore, it’s vital to help teens avoid damaging themselves through unwanted pregnancy, single motherhood, sexually transmitted disease, abortion, and the like. Sensible, complete, matter-of-fact sex education is needed to teach teens how to prevent pregnancy and disease.
However, last week’s upheaval at George Washington High School showed the wrong approach. A fundamentalist speaker reportedly “shamed” girls who become sexually active, implying that they’re “impure” and doomed to ugly consequences.
“If you take birth control, your mother probably hates you,” she reportedly said.
Pamphlets announcing the lecture allegedly said it outlined “God’s plan for sexual purity.”
Some students and parents protested that the session caused pregnant students to leave in tears. One parent reportedly asked the American Civil Liberties Union to act against such Puritanism in public schools. One student filed a court petition accusing Principal George Aulenbacher of threatening to sabotage her acceptance at Wellesley College because she complained publicly about the lecture.
The speaker, Pam Stenzel — a graduate of evangelist Jerry Falwell’s fundamentalist Liberty University — tours America, speaking mostly at churches. She reportedly is paid $4,000 per talk. She was brought to the Kanawha Valley by a church group called Believe in West Virginia.
On the Internet, Stenzel displays videos in which she warns that birth control makes a woman “10 times more likely to contract a disease . . . or end up sterile or dead . . . Sex could damage you for the rest of your life . . . and you need to ask Jesus for forgiveness.”
Why are outside groups allowed to present speakers like this in schools? Are educators risking expensive lawsuits?
America’s morality keeps shifting away from bluenose condemnation of sex. President Obama’s national health reform makes birth control available free through every medical insurance plan. A couple of weeks ago, a federal judge ruled that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration must let “morning-after” pills be sold over the counter to all girls, regardless of age.
A decade ago, the Republican Bush administration demanded that schools teach “abstinence-only” sex classes. But research found that this “just say no” instruction was worthless. Why then was it pushed militantly at George Washington High?
Fortunately, abstinence-only classes have been reduced dramatically under the Obama administration. Someone should inform GWHS officials of this fact.
– Originally published in the April 17 edition of The Charleston Gazette