Katelyn Campbell is student body vice president at George Washington High School in Charleston, West Virginia.? Katelyn recently filed an injunction with the American Civil Liberties Union, claiming her principal threatened to punish her for speaking out against religious bias and factually inaccurate information presented at an abstinence-only assembly at her school.? Katelyn shared this open letter on her Facebook page, which is posted here with her permission.
“It is my understanding that my actions during this past week have stirred up a significant amount of controversy in the [George Washington High School] community and beyond. I am aware that my actions may have offended some, and for many I believe that your offense is as justified as mine was with the actions of both Pam Stenzel and our Principal, George Aulenbacher. I am writing this in order to debunk many of the comments that I have read, both positive and negative, about this entire situation in an effort to foster a better understanding of the issue at hand. Please note that it is not my intention to try to change anyone?s opinion, I simply want to tell my story in the most honest way possible to foster understanding.
First off, I?d like to note the fact that I have no personal vendetta against George Aulenbacher: he is someone who has been my friend and cohort over his past two years as principal. He did wonderful things for our cross country team in terms of team development, and it is because of his passion that I have been inspired to continue running (although not competitively) after my final high school season. I have always felt respected by Mr. Aulenbacher, and I felt that if I had a personal issue I could come to him without having to worry despite our obvious ideological differences.
This is why I was so shocked when he called me into his office.
I was notified the night before the assembly by a concerned teacher who told me about the religious nature of the assembly for which they had been given information without explanation. Because of my concern (I?ll admit, I?m a strong believer in the separation of church and state), I advertised the assembly for what it was via Facebook and Twitter so students would have the opportunity to opt out if they so chose. I received mostly positive feedback.
I myself opted out of the assembly on the basis that I knew that Pam Stenzel?s speech did not align with my personal beliefs, despite the fact that many students were forced to attend.
Several have questioned why I?m ?pitching a fit? over an assembly I didn?t even go to, and although I?m sure at least one person will call this overly-dramatic, this is why: last spring, I was elected representative of the student body of George Washington High School. My student body was upset. My student body was offended. My student body was hurt. For this reason, I took action. Not only because of my personal offense, but because people around me were offended and the assembly defied West Virginia Statute I25, which states that both sides of controversial issues that display the personal beliefs of an educator must be presented to students. So I listened to the tape. And I called the paper. And I e-mailed the ACLU.
As you?ve probably noticed, to this point, I?ve taken no issue with Mr. Aulenbacher. Sure, he may have made a mistake by inviting Stenzel into his school, but I still thought he was a pretty stand-up guy.? Then he called me out of class and expressed what he thought of me. That he was disappointed, that I should get over it because I was the only one who was angry, and ?how would you like it if I called your college? and all the rest I?m sure you?ve heard from the local media.
I was shocked. Mr. Aulenbacher, as I said earlier, was someone I have generally placed a great deal of trust in and respected, even when his policies have conflicted with mine. After working with a group of people including the great Ed Rabel, Cheri Callaghan, Mike Callaghan, representatives of WV Free and countless others, I decided that this couldn?t stand.
Prior to my ?big announcement? this morning, CNN contacted me (yes, THEY contacted ME) and asked me to do an interview. I agreed, on the basis that they would focus on the issue of effective sex education. I didn?t want to slam my principal on national television and had no intention of doing so. I didn?t seek out that interview, and, had this issue not been so important to me, I never would have agreed to do it. I then utilized local media to announce my request for Mr. Aulenbacher?s resignation.
This is where it gets sticky. This is where people get mad. This is where people say ?she?s got another agenda and has gone too far.?
I don?t blame you.
Why would a student who has otherwise been compliant make such a bold request for the removal of her principal from her school right before graduation? Why wouldn?t I just settle for my ?fifteen minutes of fame? and move on with my life?
Because I don?t want this to happen again.
I don?t want girls to feel hurt because they?ve had sex, or been molested, or even considered having sex. I don?t want someone who skews facts to present to my student body a majorly slanted view of what it means to have intercourse. I want the sexual health of GW to improve, and not be set back.
I recognize that abstinence is the most effective method of birth control and STD prevention. I?m definitely not in favor of everyone having sex. I?d just much rather be addressed with the facts so, if and when members of the student body decide to have sex, they?re informed. Abstinence-only education has been proven ineffective. West Virginia has the 9th highest teen pregnancy rate in the country. I want us to do better.
I still respect Mr. Aulenbacher and I wish him only the best. My concern here is the safety of the sexual atmosphere of George Washington High School. I condone abstinence, I think it?s the only way to be 100% safe, but not 100% of GW?s students will abstain. For that reason, our school should give them the tools to be safe.”
Read more about Katelyn Campbell’s story:
High Schooler Protests ?Slut-Shaming? Abstinence Assembly Despite Alleged Threats From Her Principal
GW student asks for injunction against principal over speaker
Flyer passed out to teachers at George Washington High School about the assembly: