Seventeen-year-old Katelyn Campbell just wants a quality education. She wants it for herself and she wants it for her peers. She recognizes that it is something that is her right along with the right to speak out against poor education.
What she doesn’t want is to be threatened when she speaks up for her rights. She doesn’t want her future jeopardized because of it. She doesn’t want to have to sit through a misguided moral presentation that misinformed and slut-shamed her and her peers.
But, this is exactly what happened when Katelyn protested against a recent abstinence-only speaker who spoke at an assembly at her high school in West Virginia. And, so her principal threatened to contact the college she had already been accepted to, Wellesley College (with an impressive list of outspoken female alumni), to inform them of her “bad behavior” and that she was a “backstabber.”
It’s baffling why schools are even still teaching abstinence-only programs, given that they have been shown to have poorer outcomes (i.e. those who go through the program, later report engaging in sexual activity before marriage) than comprehensive sex ed classes that includes information on contraception and abstinence. However, the fact that a conservative speaker with a religious agenda who says such ridiculous things (on film, no less!) as “No one has ever had more than one partner and not paid!” or that birth control will make a girl sterile or kill her (or just not pregnant, but let’s get their attention!).
Consider the following stats,
- In 2008, teen pregnancies were at the lowest level nationally in 40 years, thanks to the improved use of contraception, v About 90% of both females and males are engaging in premarital sex.
- Studies show that abstinence-only education doesn’t work.
- Young people who receive comprehensive sexual health education (i.e. covering all safe sex options, like contraceptives, birth control methods and, yes, abstinence) have lower risk of pregnancy than those that receive abstinence-only education.
- Over 60% of teenagers are already having sex by the time they are 19 years old.
Katelyn was right. This kind of narrow-minded education doesn’t reflect what’s true in the world. And, she and her fellow students have the right to accurate, informed information that is going to help them have healthy sex lives whenever they decide to become sexually active. And, they also have the right to not be shamed for their choices and the choices of so many others.
If you want to show your support for Katelyn and for the right of women to voice their opinions about access to quality education and the right to voice opinions, check out the following:
- Sign the Change.org petition
- Show your support on Facebook
- You can even write her principal a letter to voice your concerns
The good news is that Katelyn’s future college got wind of the situation and showed their support for Katelyn. The not-so-good news? Not much changed during a local school board meeting where other students advocated on her behalf. The school board stood firm behind their choice of the speaker. The battle for quality education continues and we need more young women, like Katelyn, raising their voices.
The first and featured image to this post is from Think Progress. The second image is from The 2x2 Project.