Last month, the principals of George Washington and Riverside high schools had Pam Stenzel come and speak on sexual abstinence. Since then, some GW students have informed the media that they were disturbed and upset by what she said.
Katelyn Campbell, GW student body vice president, even asked a court for an injunction against the school's principal, which was denied, for threats he allegedly made to her after she spoke to the media.
In an effort to get all the facts, and to try and understand what upset the students, I looked up information on Stenzel.
Contrary to what most would assume from her stance on sex, her message is not centered on religion. Her drive to talk on this subject was fueled by the years she worked at a crisis pregnancy center in Minnesota. Repeatedly, young girls told her they weren't aware of all the risks associated with sex. Stenzel decided to try and change that. She now travels around the world talking with teens and others about the physical and emotional effects of sex outside marriage.
This topic isn't just a "religious thing." Sex is a natural, human activity, but like anything, if abused, it has some serious consequences. These include sexually transmitted diseases, AIDs, cancer and even death. Teens especially need to know these risks so they can make informed decisions and because young men and women are heavily affected by STDs more than older people, with young women facing the most serious long-term health consequences.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says men and women ages 15 to 24 account for half of all new STD infections, even though this age group represents only 25 percent of all people who are sexually active.
Teens should be concerned about this because of the effects STDs can have on their bodies. Chlamydia, which is a bacterial infection and is curable, often goes undetected because 75 percent of women and 50 percent of men don't experience any symptoms. If not cured in time, the bacteria can travel upward to a woman's uterus and fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease, which can lead to infertility and other complications.
Another STD that can cause serious health effects is HPV, or the human papillomavirus. This STD is different in that pretty much everyone who has sex is at risk for it, even people who have one partner their entire life. However, 90 percent of infections go away by themselves without symptoms or causing any problems. People with multiple sexual partners increase their risk of contracting HPV multiple times, which ups their chances of getting a kind that causes cervical cancer or genital warts. HPV is the cause of nearly all cases of cervical cancer, which is the second most common cancer in women. Two vaccines exist for HPV, but they protect people against only four out of the 100 strains.
Another thing to worry about with STDs is that the CDC says there is "substantial evidence" that if a person already has one, they are more likely to transmit and/or acquire HIV, which causes AIDS.