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Ifenanya Agwu
Lyra Hilliard
Rogerian Letter
7 April 2014
Dear Pam Stenzel,
I have been doing a lot of research into the debate of comprehensive sexual education
versus abstinence-only education and along the way, I came across your work. I first came across
an article about a speech you gave at George Washington High School but that led me to watch a
few of your videos. You have been very active in the pro-life and pro-abstinence debate. The
issue of sexual education in schools has been a divisive one, and specifically your role has been
particularly controversial. After researching your background a little more, I learned that you
began this work after realizing so many of our youth—especially young girls are unaware of the
risks of sexual activity and that you are actually a product of rape, two aspects that led you to this
line of work. I commend your passion to help save our youth and spread awareness of unplanned
pregnancy, Sexually Transmitted Infections, and other emotional risks of early sexual behavior.
However, I hope you will be able to see why “no sex until marriage” abstinence programs may
not be the best choice.
In your interview you speak about the way abstinence education is taught in schools and
how many schools are misrepresenting their programs as abstinence-only or abstinence-plus to
get the funding for their schools. You believe true abstinence is very important not only because
of unplanned pregnancy but because of the contraction of STI’s. Now I have done research on
the contraction of STIs among our youth, and we (ages 15-24) actually have the highest rate of
STIs of all age groups. You also claim that teenage girls are four times more likely to contract a
STI than to become pregnant. That is something I didn’t realize, I didn’t realize how much more
serious it is to contract an STI than to become pregnant. So getting tested for STIs becomes a
very pivotal part of being sexually active.
Your view on the contraction of STIs is the one I would have to agree with the most.
Stereotypically, teenagers ignore getting tested for STIs because they believe they won’t contract
one and since most STIs tend to be asymptomatic, they don’t believe they are sick. However,
knowing now that it is much easier to contract an STI than to get pregnant, I think sexual
education programs should emphasize this much more. Your position on pre-marital sexual
activity stems partly from your religion. I am aware that your Christian views support your belief
that pre-marital sex is wrong. I am also aware that you being a product of rape yourself, it gives
you a personal insight into unplanned pregnancy and the ills of abortion. However, on the other
side there are many cases where the victim keeps her child after being raped and it leads to
mental health issues as well as drug addictions. So although your case turned into a positive
situation with you encouraging others, all situations are not the same. But your interview and
your views have definitely given me another way to view this debate.
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While I respect your views on this very controversial topic, I ask you to look at this
situation in a different viewpoint. I agree that the best option may be to delay sexual activity until
as late as possible. However, your “no sex until marriage” view is motivated by your Christian
views. Although there are other ways to frame it, many people do not share the same religion or
practice a religion at all. So using God as a reason behind not having sex before marriage can be
very pointless and is often heard on deaf ears, especially in academic audiences where religion
should have no effect on their policies. I also notice that you plant a lot of emphasis on girls and
while you are right that many diseases can be worse for girls, boys still suffer from STIs and can
bear the burden of unplanned pregnancy as well as other problems from early sexual activity. So
males should get as much attention as the girls do.
Ultimately, more than half of 15-24 year olds have had sexual intercourse (Walcott). So
pushing abstinence does delay sexual activity, but most of them are still having sex before they
are actually married. I believe that rather than just giving them that one option, arming them with
the information to make intelligent and safe decisions is much better than leaving them to act on
their own. Facts like contracting STIs is so much more prevalent than getting pregnant is
something students should know. There should be some sort of happy medium between real
abstinence programs and comprehensive programs.

Ifenanya Agwu