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School board member Jordon's husband helped bring abstinence speaker

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- People who attended Thursday's Kanawha County school board meeting to support a student who spoke out against an abstinence-only speaker at George Washington High School were outraged when school board member Becky Jordon said her husband donated money that helped pay for the controversial speaker's visit.

Andrew Jordon, owner of Pritchard Mining, made a personal donation to Believe in West Virginia, a Christian organization, which brought Pam Stenzel to speak at George Washington and Riverside high schools, Becky Jordon said.

She said when Joe Holland approached her husband, he didn't think twice about giving a donation. Holland is a member of Believe in West Virginia's board of directors. 

"My husband gave him a donation. My husband believed in it. If you look around Kanawha County, my husband donates to a lot of good causes," she said. "There's a soccer field, there's a golf course, there's many things my husband has done all through this county and paid for completely."

When Jordon made the remarks, members in the board meeting's packed audience called for her to resign, shouting things like, "But you're a member of the board of education" and "separation of church and state."

Since the assembly -- where Stenzel was recorded telling students that birth control is unsafe and that any sexual contact will likely lead to sexually transmitted diseases and infertility in women -- GW student Katelyn Campbell has made national headlines because she opposed her visit to the school.

Campbell filed an injunction in Kanawha Circuit Court against GW Principal George Aulenbacher, alleging that he threatened to call the college she's been accepted to and tell them she has "bad character" after she went to the media with her concerns.

Campbell, who called Stenzel's presentation a form of "slut-shaming," has publicly asked him to resign from his position and issue an apology.

While Stenzel's visit cost a reported $4,000, Jordon said her husband was not the sole contributor.

"There were a lot of people, but I don't know who else," she said Thursday.

Last week, Jordon told the Gazette she did not know who the private donor was. Aulenbacher said because it was a private donor, he could not reveal the source.

But Jordon said she did not see a problem with her family donating to Stenzel, and said she supports Aulenbacher, saying, "He is awesome. It makes me sick.

"I'm a parent before I'm anything. I'm not dogging this child, but the media has chosen to give this young lady the time, and it's not right. ... The media has allowed her to have all the ink," she said.

"Now it's your all's time," Jordon told Aulenbacher supporters at the meeting.

Before Stenzel's visit to George Washington, fliers were distributed promoting "God's plan for purity." Jordon said that one teacher who saw the fliers "stirred it up" at the school before Stenzel even spoke to students. 

Jordon also said that Charleston attorney Mike Callaghan, who is representing Campbell and has children who attend GW, "has beef" with Aulenbacher.

In her YouTube videos, Stenzel uses an abrasive tone to warn teens of the dangers of sex, saying women who take birth control are "10 times more likely to contract a disease . . . or end up sterile or dead."

Holland praised Stenzel at Thursday's meeting, calling her "an authority and credible source on these issues.

"She's an intense lady. She can get loud, but we cannot deny her message," he said. 

About 40 people signed up to speak at Thursday's meeting, including supporters of both Campbell and Aulenbacher. Neither attended the meeting.

GW student Josh Weaver said, "A man's job is in jeopardy because a couple of people didn't like an assembly. That's ridiculous. Grow up. It's not that big of a deal."

Parent Debra Bradford broke into tears when she addressed the board in support of Aulenbacher, saying, "Please consider the students at GW and how much he means to them."

Bradford said she was sure Aulenbacher would never threaten anyone and said it was merely "open dialogue between a principal and a student."

GW alumna Sydney Boggess said she was offended that Aulenbacher allowed the assembly and is circulating a petition to get Planned Parenthood to make a sexual health lecture at the school.

"We no longer teach that the world is flat. Sex education is no different. Sex is not a controversial subject, it's how we all got here," she said. "We owe it to all students to present the most accurate and current information possible."

Trish Sheridan, a local nurse whose son graduated from GW, stood before the board saying she sees what teen parents go through on a daily basis at her job, but what Stenzel did was not right.

"Preventing teen pregnancy and STDs is not something that can be accomplished in shame punishment. Any decisions to have a speaker at a public school who comes across as badgering when the goal is to educate, not intimidate, has failed," she said. "If her purpose was to have students leaving scared and angry about the decisions they face having sex -- it was a success."

Board of Education President Pete Thaw said Superintendent Ron Duerring has "thoroughly investigated" the threat allegations and the board is "satisfied with [Duerring's] operation of the school system, i.e. the principal."

Thaw plans to make a motion at the next board meeting that the board better regulate the speakers principals bring into their schools for presentations, specifically when they concern "sex, religion and politics."

Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.

 

 


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