A religious group, Believe in West Virginia, brought to the Charleston area an informational speaker, Pam Stenzel. She caused quite a stir at George Washington High School.
Her message: Abstinence is the safest way to avoid not only teenage pregnancy but the spread of life-changing sexually transmitted infections as well.
Although her publicist says Stenzel is a publicly religious person, John deBleourt, the executive director of the sponsoring organization, said hers "is not a particularly religious message."
But Stenzel apparently spoke in electrifying terms that some GW students found offensive.
One student called Stenzel's message "slut-shaming," said she used "a lot of scare tactics to keep people from having sex," said the presentation "contributed negatively to the sexual environment at GW," and called for Principal George Aulenbacher's resignation.
Becky Jordon, a member of the Kanawha County Board of Education, whose husband helped underwrite Stenzel's appearance, heard the presentation and thought that there was "nothing inappropriate" about it.
"You know what?" Jordon said. "I think STDs are scary. I think having a baby as a teenager is scary."
This is what educators call a teachable moment.
Most parents do not want schools to subject their children to an overtly religious message. Many parents don't want speakers to make their girls cry, either.
But April is Sexually Transmitted Diseases Awareness Month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says:
* Almost 20 million sexually transmitted infections occur each year, and half occur among young adults ages 15 and 24. Left untreated, common STIs can cause severe health consequences, including infertility, cervical cancer and increased HIV risk.