A Sex Education Horror Story (Stenzel Horrors Pt 1)

[This follows up on an eye-witness account described in his article on the Scottish Secular Society web page by my good friend, Garry Otton: ] The speaker, specially flown in from California, grins at the audience and rubs her hands together in holy zeal, as she tells her little anecdote. A young man is offering his beloved a diamond engagement ring. Unfortunately, he is also offering her genital warts, which, she tells her captive audience of schoolchildren, will last like the ring for the rest of her life, be incurable, and make her sterile. No one, she repeatedly says, can have more than one sexual partner in a lifetime, and not pay a price for it.

Her name is Pam Stenzel, and she runs a California-based business that makes more than a quarter million dollars a year, educating children worldwide about sexual health.  What are her qualifications for doing this? None whatsoever. She has no formal training in medicine, public health, any other area of health science, or education. The only academic qualification listed on her own website is an undergraduate degree in psychology, from Liberty University, an ultra-conservative evangelical establishment in Virginia, founded by Jerry Falwell Sr., in whose view pagans,  lesbians and the ACLUhelped 9/11 happen”, and financed by the Rev. Father Sung Myung Moon, who considered that “romantic love leads to promiscuity”. As for her training in biology, she will have taken a course called Origins, which is compulsory for all Liberty University students. This course, from a professor whose advertised job requirements were “Ph.D. and compatibility with a young-earth creationist philosophy”, is highly recommended by AnswersInGenesis, and will have told her that evolution and deep time geology are bad science and that the Earth is 6,000 years old. (This of course is completely incompatible with Catholic teaching on the subject, although on the occasion I am discussing, it is a Catholic school that has invited her.)

One also wonders about her training in arithmetic. “14,000 teanagers every day”, she tells her audience (and she puts on exactly the same show whether she is speaking in the US, or in Scotland) will contract a sexually transmitted disease. Shock, horror! 14,000 a day x 365 is more that 5 million a year; 25% greater than the entire US birthrate.  On the other hand, if she means worldwide, it’s about one in 30, which as a lifetime risk factor, given her extremely broad definition of sexually transmitted disease, seems far too low.

When and where did all this happening? Somewhere in the rural American deep South, and some time in the last century but one? No; it happened on May 8, 2013, as had been advertised beforehand here, at St Andrew’s Academy in Paisley, a township of some 75,000 inhabitants, and part of the Glasgow conurbation. And were the audience drawn from fringe educational establishments? No; they came from the area’s denominational (in this case, Catholic) schools, which form part of the mainstream publicly funded Scottish educational system.

How is this possible? Well may you ask. Indeed, I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to the school that hosted the event, where I question them as follows:

Who is paying for all this? Who was consulted? Did anyone ask any of the teachers involved in biology or health-related subjects? Did anyone ask the parents? Did the school know that she would talk a lot of dangerous nonsense,

claiming that a third of sexually transmitted diseases were incurable,

repeating the long-refuted claim that the abortion leads to depression,

saying that chlamydia, even when cured, causes sterility,

repeatedly asserting that everyone who has more than one sexual partner in a lifetime must pay a price (what of bereaved parents, remarrying with the blessings of the Church? What are their children in the audience supposed to make of this?)

misdescribing HPV vaccination for cervical cancer protection as ineffective because it guards against some strains only; indeed it does, but that is because it specifically targets the cancer-causing strains, and, throughout,

giving the strong impression (while choosing words selected to confer deniability) that condoms were ineffective for disease prevention, in direct contravention of Scottish Government educational guidelines and specific guidelines relating to HIV?

I will let you know when the school replies. As an educational establishment, they are entitled to take more time than other publicly funded agencies over answering, so don’t hold your breath.

Tags: 9/11Answers In Genesiscervical cancercondoms,Freedom of InformationHIVHPVJerry Falwell Sr.Moral Majority,Paisleysex education

About Paul Braterman

Science writer, former chemistry professor; committee member British Centre for Science Education; board member and science adviser Scottish Secular Society; former member editorial board, Origins of Life, and associate, NASA Astrobiology Insitute; first popsci book, From Stars to Stalagmites 2012

Posted on May 18, 2013, in Creationism, Education, Religion and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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