Update at bottom
Oh oh! Pam Stenzel, Safe Haven Baby Boxes’ resident phone counselor/hotline coordinator, and board member got into a wee bit of trouble last Monday (September 19, 2022) in Michigan. Speaking in her alternative role of abstinence educator, purity maven, and “crisis pregnancy center” boss she addressed a captive assembly audience of students at Edwardsville High School about the three things she hates most in the world: STDs, birth control, and abortion. (No word if she plugged baby boxes). Stenzel claimed that birth control makes girls more likely to get STDs or ovarian cancer and die, and that “abortion is equal to the death sentence.” Her bottom line preached for three decades: if you have sex outside of marriage you will pay for it for the rest of your life, physically mentally, and emotionally.
This didn’t go over well with students feeling hijacked and used and parents complaining that they had not been informed about the assembly topic and speaker; therefore, were unable to opt-0ut their kids. Both students and parents complained that Stenzel is full of bull.
School officials say they didn’t know what was going on either. Edwardsburg Public Schools Superintendent James Knoll sent out a damage control letter to parents apologizing for failing to notify them in advance (SOP procedure), but then the rather astounding:
To my knowledge at this time, no school administrator or official authorized the speaker to address this controversial subject matter or was aware that the speaker would address such content.
This is very hard to believe. Who brings a speaker into a school assembly –an official school function–without knowing their credentials, POV, and exact topic? Local media reports that some students and teachers were led to believe the presentation was about “healthy relationships.” One glance at Stenzel’s Enlighten website, shows what officials should have expected and could, have known easily if they had bothered to check with their friend, Mr. Google:
Knoll also wrote in his letter that if any school employees violated school district policies, disciplinary action will be taken against them.
And, here is where it gets interesting. Can anyone say separation of church and state? Stenzel, who just happens to also be a Moody Bible Institute and Liberty University alum and popular evangelical speaker, was brought in not by the school but by the Gospel-centered group, LifePlan, whose agenda is also easy to find:
What does this even mean? This was not an after-school off-site voluntary gathering or a school auditorium rental.
Can any group just “sponsor” someone to come to the public tax-payer-funded Edwardsburg High School during school hours and talk to a captive student audience about any topic some rogue staff or outside source deems “relevant” to students’ personal, social, or political lives? Can religious-oriented organizations bring in any old assembly speaker without vetting as long as the school is not footing the bill? I’m pretty sure I could not come in and downtalk Safe Haven Baby Boxes, or preach the benefits of Scientology to 14-year-olds if some outside organization pays for it.
The school administration (or higher-ups) knew. If they didn’t, then somebody needs booted to the door.
I don’t know what show (if either) Stenzel put on, but there’s her rate card:
Stenzel, of course, denies that “she crossed the line” in her talk, Sex? Evangelical proselytizing? Promiscuity call-outs? Misinformation? Not her!
In a statement to WSBT-TV she says:
While speaking on Sexual Risk Avoidance is not without controversy, I have never received this amount of misinformation and personal attack anywhere in the United States (or around the world) in over 25 years. I have received criticism about specific statements, some factual and some complete fabrications.
That’s just not true, Pam! Edwardsburg isn’t your first rodeo!
A few years ago you made national news when students and parents complained about an identical talk at George Washington High School in Charleston, West, Virginia. The Charleston Gazette-Mail (behind a paywall) accused Stenzel of “slut shaming.” Jezebel covered the story at length. and quoted Stenzel from a 2000 video posted with the article, telling students, “If you take birth control, your mother probably hates you,” and “I could look at any one of you in the eyes right now and tell if you’re going to be promiscuous.” Towards the end of the video, she crazy-claims that pregnant teens on average “carry 2.3 STDs!” This video is very similar to a talk I heard her give at the 2002 Teen Mania/Acquire the Fire event in Indianapolis (we go way back* ), where she compared teen girls who had had sex to a nasty piece of chewed-up gum and an old shoe. Who would want them? Twenty years later it’s still her message.
The Jezebel video is the tip of the iceberg. The internet is full of Stenzel’s own “sex education” videos, sex and relationship advice, and confrontations. as well as occasional appearances on the Safe Haven Baby Box show on Facebook, Beyond the Box. They are pernicious but important. Watch at your hazard, but do watch.
Stenzel is adopted–the product of rape– and reared in a multi-racial Christian family. She has no connection to the adoptee rights movement and does not support adoptee civil rights. She promotes forced and anonymous birth, secret adoption surrender, and apparently has no genuine interest in her own rights or roots She says she’ll meet her birthmother in heaven. Adoptees who disagree with her…well…
Here is what she wrote about adoptees who oppose Safe Haven Baby Boxes:
Is there any reason NOT to question Safe Haven Baby Box counseling techniques, standards, and protocols designed and performed by Pam Stenzel who believes that there is a lifelong “price to pay” for non-marital sex? I guess getting conned out of your baby is one of them.
I am not a social worker or counselor, but we’ve got some serious professional ethics questions, and I believe violations, not only about Safe Haven Baby Boxes and adoption but sex and sexuality education.
- What kind of legitimate sex educator or counselor or therapist tells high school girls that their mothers hate them if they use birth control or that they will drip sexually transmitted diseases all over their sheets and maybe become infertile if they have sex or get pregnant outside of marriage?
- What kind of legitimate sex educator or counselor or therapist tells teenage girls they’re used goods that nobody will want; chewed-up pieces of gum stuck on the bottom of old shoes?
- What kind of legitimate sex educator or counselor or therapist tells women in “crisis pregnancies” to stick their baby in a box and walk away?
Only someone who wants to punish sexually active girls and women. Someone who wants to exact a penalty. Wants them “to pay the price.”
- Should someone with Stenzel’s bias, bigotry, bad sex talk, and contempt for women advise emotionally and financially vulnerable women and girls that it’s OK to risk their lives and the lives of their unborn children by concealing pregnancy, delivering unassisted, and then dropping their newborns into a box-in-the-wall at the fire station and walk away no harm done?
- If teenagers are “counseled” in-person as “used goods.” what kind of “counseling” does Stenzel give to anonymous women over the SHBB hotline smack in the middle of a “crisis pregnancy?
- What will Stenzel say to those boxed babies, when they grow up and ask questions about why and how she counseled and assisted in the erasure of their biology, history, and families? Shut up? Be grateful? You are “mentally challenged” –seek therapy?
- Would you want Stenzel to tell your sister or daughter–or yourself–that abandoning a baby is not shameful, but an admirable and brave act if you do it the “right way?” After all, someday you’ll meet up in heaven.
Stenzel’s cult culture of self-hatred and shame turned -on- its- head is insidious. It is nauseating. It is hypocritical. This deep misogyny, dehumanization, and manipulation of women really scares me. This is unethical stuff! This is dangerous stuff! If this weren’t real, it would end up in The Onion.
The news stories I’ve linked above to the Edwardsburg controversy don’t feature comments, but boy oh boy, the WSBT-TV Facebook page is jammed up with hundreds of opinions–and fights! (Stenzel’s own FB page is silent on Edwardsburg).
As expected, the town is divided. A good number of folks agree with Stenzel. What’s the big deal? She’s telling the truth. Kids need to hear this. Praise God! Apparently scaring high school girls into not having sex will save the town from CRT and its liberal spawn in the teachers union. Drag queens? TikTok? Wokeness? Liberals? MAGA? Biden? Trump? The kitchen sink? It’s all there. An approximate equal number of posters, many of whom are parents, disagree and don’t take too kindly to unauthorized sex disinformation in the school, whacky sex talkers, and possible evangelical indoctrination. They are really really really mad at the way Knoll & Co are handling the Stenzel Event. Not surprisingly, the pro-Stenzel crowd that was not at the assembly is calling the students who actually sat through it and speak out about it, liars.
Thursday, the school board held “a special meeting,” but I can’t find out yet what happened. I wonder who will fall on whose petard?
The FB comments are worth the time to read. Go to the WSBT-TV page and key in “Stenzel” at the search function. You’ll come up with the news stories. and voluminous comments, fair and foul.
Bonus Read: Did You Have Sex Ed or Did You Have Pam Stenzel? by Meghan Gunn. A super deconstruction by someone who went through the Stenzel program as a teenager.
I have a little more to say about the Stenzel-SHBB relationship but will wait for a few days since I am trying to finish other projects. I will also try to learn if she discussed SHBB and how to legally dumpsterize your baby at the talk. Edwardsburg is only a few miles from Indiana, and a short drive across the state line will take you to an array of baby box locations where all your troubles will go away.
*If you are a serious masochist, read my long piece on Teen Mania, though it is not about Indianapolis. or Pam Stenzel. It also appeared in the print edition of the Columbus Free Press. An association with Teen Mania reeks of Christian Nationalism and theocracy.
Well, it looks like Edwardsburg Schools Superintendent Jim Knoll has taken his petard in hand and taken responsibility for the last week’s Stenzel Fiasco. At a special public meeting on Monday (September 26) he admitted he should have done more at the onset,:
even though current board policy does not specifically require it I should have done more to vet the speaker and ensure that notice of likely content of what the speaker would share at the assembly was provided to parents along with the opportunity to excuse their children from the assembly.
But there’s a little kink to this that doesn’t surprise me at all. Knoll said he researched Stenzel and her topic, had reservations
and told the sponsoring group LifePlan to change her presentation to “acceptable topics.” He says this request was not communicated directly to the speaker, nor was it followed up by the district.
Of course, it wasn’t. That wasn’t part of LifePlan’s plan.
Reportedly, a video of the presentation will be made public in the next few days.
If anything good comes of this, LifePlan and Stenzel will be barred from stepping foot in Edwardsburg schools permanently