Monday, April 22, 2013

Same School, Different Worlds

Here's a fascinating story from the mountains of West Virginia:

A Charleston high school brought in an abstinence-only speaker to tell the students how dangerous premarital sex is. Among the many factually wrong and inflammatory things she said was that condoms don't work and that every time you have unprotected sex, you'll get an STD.  Fliers for the event said it would focus on "God's plan for sexual purity."  This was in a public high school. 

A senior at the school refused to attend the event.  She contacted the ACLU and spoke out publicly against the speech, saying that it was inaccurate, offensive, and nothing but an attempt at "slut shaming." 

The principal then had a private meeting with the student, wherein he tried to intimidate her by threatening to call the college she was going to and tell them she was a "backstabber" with "bad character."

The student then filed an injunction against the principal.  (I'm not sure exactly what that means, and none of the news stories explain it, but I assume it means she wants him reprimanded or fired or something.)  


The funniest thing about this whole situation?

The student is going to is Wellesley College.

If you're not familiar with Wellesley, it's a famous all-women's college outside of Boston with a very strong reputation for feminist education.  It's one of the Seven Sisters schools.

Lisa Simpson dreams of going to a Seven Sisters school.

Wellesley's most famous alumna is Hillary Clinton.  (A less famous one, but equally important, is my Betrothed.)

A high school principal threatening to call Wellesley because his female student is speaking out against abstinence-only education is kinda like tattling to a young boy's mom that he won't stop eating all his vegetables.

It would actually be a really entertaining conversation to hear, kind of like Who's On First.

Principal: She has bad character.  I brought in a speaker to tell the students that God's plan is for them to remain celibate until marriage, and she was mean and called the ACLU on me.
Wellesley:  Who has bad character?  The abstinence-only speaker?
Principal: No, the student.  She's a backstabber!  She can't be trusted!
Wellesley:  Because she was spreading misinformation to other students about sexual health?  She wasn't slut shaming, was she? 
Principal: No, she wouldn't listen to God's Word!  And she wouldn't behave. 
Wellesley:  Um, we're fine with that.  We like independent and strong women who fight for equality.
Principal:  ??    

Frankly, it boggles my mind how a high school principal can be that ignorant.  It reminds me of the time I gave a ride to a vice president at my college, and during the conversation it came out that she didn't know the difference between Martin Luther and Martin Luther King Jr.  How can any educator be THAT ignorant?

"I Have a Dream" or "95 Theses"?   

In such situations, I try to figure out the thought process of the baffling person.  This high school administrator clearly inhabits a different world than I do.  A world where an authority figure in a public school can coerce a student with threats.  A world where ANY respected university (much less a liberal arts feminist college) would take seriously a principal who uses words like "backstabber" to describe a student.  A world where a college would reject a student after they've been admitted because a school administrator tattled on them.

Or maybe I have this principal all wrong, and he's just a naive yokel who sincerely had his feelings hurt.   He never meant to call the college, but he doesn't understand why this young lady has to be such a troublemaker.  He's trying to appeal to her sense of fair play.   "You called the ACLU on me, how would you like it if I called your college on you?"

Whatever the case, he doesn't come across as very smart, mature, or knowledgeable.  And I'm pretty sure he doesn't discuss issues of "slut shaming" in a feminist deconstruction group.  But then, what would you expect from a principal who hires an abstinence-only speaker?                 

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