When I walked across the stage on May 22, I felt a broad range of emotions: anger at not being allowed to speak at my high school graduation, embarrassed that my principal shook my hand for what felt like 10 times longer than he did anyone else's and nostalgic for a time when all was simple and the acceptance of a diploma from the hand of George Aulenbacher was little more than a task on my checklist of things to do to make it to the promised land: College.
But, in the wake of Pam Stenzel's presentation at George Washington High School in April, accompanied by the resultant repercussions I faced from my principal and certain sectors of the community, I almost lost my love for where I come from. Prior to my speaking out in favor of science and comprehensive sex education, I had always felt at home and loved in the GW community despite my being a transfer student. I may not have been in everyone's kindergarten class photo, but I certainly got along with most and made friends. Now, I must say that many of the kind students and parents I've met no longer call me friend, and for this reason it saddens me to leave Charleston for Boston with so many ties (perhaps forever) unbound.
The issue of sex is one very few Americans are comfortable with discussing: Let's face it, most of us probably learned the "details" at school from another student who most likely didn't know all of the facts to start with. Young people need to know their options. Scientifically speaking, there are many. According to Pam Stenzel, there is only one: Abstinence until marriage.
Although abstinence is the only 100 percent effective method for preventing the contraction of STIs or unwanted pregnancies, not everyone will stay abstinent. Schools are the conduit for the spread of scientifically accurate information; therefore, it is through the schools that we must educate students as to their options when it comes to sex, be it abstinence, delay or protection. Telling a young woman where to find free birth control alone will not convince her to immediately have intercourse. Showing a young man how to use a condom will not persuade him to use them for anything more than an awkward prank gift for a friend. By the same token that giving a man a gun does not make him a murderer, showing a woman what a diaphragm looks like will not make her a sex addict.
I realize that I've stirred up issues that have previously been under wraps in the Charleston community, and in the interest of the citizenry I'm leaving behind as I depart for Wellesley College in the fall, I ask two things. Please, do not think that I love you any less. You are my family and friends no matter how angry we are at each other. And to those who have been so kind as to help me either strategically or emotionally through the past few months, please quest on for the implementation of scientific sex education in the state of West Virginia and beyond. It is my honor to have known and been a part of you.
Campbell, a recent graduate of George Washington High School, will attend Wellesley College in the fall.