Kanawha Co student to file injunction over ‘slut-shaming' speake - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Kanawha Co student to file injunction over 'slut-shaming' speaker

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A George Washington High School student is seeking an injunction against the school's principal, whom the student alleges threatened to call her future college because she spoke out about an abstinence speaker who recently gave a presentation to students.

And the future Wellesley College student says she also wants to draw attention to a broader topic — the state of sex education.

Katelyn McKensie Campbell filed the action against principal George Aulenbacher and Kanawha County Superintendent Ronald Duerring, taking issue with what Campbell said was a mandatory assembly Aulenbacher arranged.

Campbell has criticized the speaker, Pam Stenzel, in various media outlets, calling the speaker's approach "slut shaming."

She defined slut shaming as "making fun of young women, or women in general, for what they have done sexually with men or other women."

Campbell said Stenzel's presentation included remarks such as "if you are on birth control, your mother probably hates you," and "condoms aren't safe, never have been, never will be."

In what Campbell said was retaliation to using her First Amendment rights, she said Aulenbacher called her out of class and told her he was disappointed in her, asking her why she would speak to local media about the situation without first alerting him.

Campbell said Aulenbacher continued, asking her how she would you feel if he called her college and told them what a bad character she has and what a back stabber she is.

"To that, I said, ‘go ahead.' He continued to berate me in his office," she recalled at an April 15 news conference. "I'm not an emotional person until I cried. I'm 17 years old. I used my First Amendment rights, and he discriminated against me because of it."

When asked if she thought his threat was real, she said yes, based on his tone.

However, both Duerring and Kanawha County Board of Education General Counsel Jim Withrow said they did not see anything in Stenzel's speech that was counter to the county's sex education policies.

"I'm not aware of any particular policy that it violates," Withrow said. "I am not a curriculum expert but they do have academic freedom in West Virginia where curricula can be delivered in the manor the teachers deem appropriate.

"I would assume without knowing the health and sex ed curriculum consisted of more than one assembly."

Withrow said he is currently reading through the injunction and added that he cannot recall ever having a similar complaint.

Stenzel  has spoken in a few schools in West Virginia and has also spoken worldwide. According to her website, she has developed abstinence education products such as the video, "Sex has a price tag — the original," and public school curriculum called "abstinence by choice" and "building healthy relationships."

Campbell said the presentation cost between $4,000-$6,000 and was funded by the religious-based group Believe in West Virginia.

The high school senior said she is demanding Aulenbacher's resignation and also would like a letter of apology to the community and the student body.

Campbell's attorney, Mike Callaghan, said the injunction is necessary to protect Campbell's rights.

"We simply want to make sure that my client and the other students expressing their opinions are protected from exercising their First Amendment rights," Callaghan said. "No student should be concerned for their future for publicly expressing their opinion."

Her injunction said the high school failed to implement the Kanawha County Board of Education's "Reducing the Risk" sex ed curriculum.

"Teachers were directed not to talk to the students about the specifics of the presentation and to say only that the assembly would be about sexually transmitted diseases," the complaint for injunction states.

An audio link titled "GWS Pam Stenzel Latter 50/60 minutes," was posted to Youtube, and had about 2,200 views before it was taken down from the site April 15.

The 51 minute-long video documented Stenzel's speech at George Washington High School. In the first half of the clip, Stenzel focused on infertility. From there, Stenzel discussed STDs and infertility.

"My risk of infection is wherever you have been," she told students. "I have to know every other partner.

"It is unconscionable that anyone in this gym, including staff — I don't care how old you are — it is unconscionable that anyone in this gym have sex with another human being and not honestly tell that person everywhere you have been."

Stenzel went on to say that 67 percent of those who have sex are already infected with at least one strain of HPV.

"There is not a condom in the world that can protect you from HPV," she said, noting she didn't mean if a condom broke. "Condoms used properly provide no protection at all from HPV.

"All it takes is skin contact anywhere in the genital area and you are infected for life and will affect everyone you have genital contact with."

She continued, saying sex encompasses more than teens may think.

"Don't you dare — don't you dare tell people you are a virgin," she said in the presentation, noting there students should have "absolutely no genital contact of any kind."

"That's hand-to-genital, mouth-to-genital or genital-to-genital," she said. "Oral sex is sex—hence the name oral sex.

"If you had oral sex, don't you dare tell people you're a virgin," she said.  

The clip continued, saying safe sex does not mean having sex with a condom. She said some teens may say they have had sex with 18 people but "had a piece of latex."

"They will say, ‘I have never had unprotected sex.' What in the heck does that mean? Condoms aren't safe — never have been, never will be," she said. "The only safe sex is a safe partner."

Campbell said she is concerned about Stenzel's "scare tactics," much of which, she said, was not true. 

"What she did was not sex education. It was sex misinformation," Campbell said, later adding, "None of her statistics were correct."

"I know several students who were in the assembly who Googled her along with what she was saying," she said. 

And Campbell said she wasn't the only one who got upset about the speaker.

"Girls were coming out crying," she said.

Campbell continued, saying this isn't the first time she thinks sex education at George Washington High School has been suppressed.

"Under the career of George Aulenbacher has been such as that accurate information about birth control and sex education has been suppressed," she said. "Our school nurse wasn't allowed to talk about where you can get birth control for free in the city of Charleston."

The crux of the speech has sparked debate outside of the high school.

Margaret Chapman-Pomponio, executive director of West Virginia Free, called Stenzel's speech "outrageous."

"She basically made up a lot of what she said in outrageous lies attempting to shame students and scare them — which of course is not effective in reducing teen pregnancy at all," Chapman Pomponio said. "It is unbelievable. This is the most outrageous thing.

"It's sad, but the great news is that these George Washington students are speaking up about this."

Chapman-Pomponio also said she was concerned at what effect the situation would have on sex ed curriculum throughout the state.

"This woman is counter to the comprehensive policies that West Virginia has," she said.  "We can't have our heads in the sand about the fact that teens are sexually active.

"The best we can do is promote an abstinence-based message combined with honest education in a comprehensive sex education program — honest and medically accurate reproductive health information."

Chapman-Pomponio commended Campbell for speaking up.

"It's hard to speak up," Chapman-Pomponio said. "A lot of students don't realize that they have the power to bring about change.

"Katelyn is going to Wellesley, and she's exactly the type of student Wellesley will want. What a gift she will be to this school."

However, John deBlecourt, executive director of Believe in West Virginia, mentioned Stenzel's track record of speaking to thousands of kids in and out of the country.

"Essentially she is an abstinence advocate and we're certainly of the opinion that the best and safest thing for our kid is to be abstinent until marriage," he said. "There are all different reasons why you would do that. What she does in her presentations is talk about sexually transmitted diseases that come from being sexually active."

The organization has brought Stenzel into two schools in Kanawha County. And she has been in the state several times before, he said.

"From what I'm hearing, this is one of the bigger to-dos that has happened in her experience," he said. "Until reporters started digging, and there was that one lady that sought out the press and making her voice known. And she is welcome to do that. Beyond that, most comments have been positive."

DeBlecourt said many have told him they learned something from the presentation and mentioned that Campbell didn't even attend the presentation.

"We're thrilled she came but we're sorry there has been the uproar that's taken place," he said. "No one likes to deal with controversial subjects and the subject is controversial. It goes against what the culture is doing. But the track record for abstinence is 100 percent."