PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND – As the new school year opened, Island educators were still smarting from the results of a study delivered some months earlier by Dr. Richard Beazley of Queen’s University. His report that Island schools do a poor job of teaching their students about sexual matters gave added impetus to the drive to increase such instruction in the schools.
Concerned about the well-being of the young people in its care, the university was providing its counselors with intensive training in handing students’ questions about sexuality, including sexual orientation, contraception, and safe sex.
At the same time, two sets of Island volunteers had undertaken to promote chastity among the unmarried.
One was the Billings/PEI, a group of natural family planning teachers. They organized a five-day lecture tour by Beverly Hadland who, prior to a Christian conversion experience, had had two abortions. Today she is both a post-abortion counselor, and an outspoken promoter of pre-marital chastity, through her Toronto organizations, Straight Talk Teen Counseling Services.
Another group, the PEI branch of CYPLO (The Canadian Youth Pro Life Organization), was organizing a regional conference entitled The Chastity Challenge. Coordinators Gay Garvey and Paul and Lois Chandler arranged to hold it in Charlottetown Sept. 15 and 16, during Beverly Hadland’s visit.
“We very optimistically planned for 150 people. We were overjoyed to have a hundred more register,” said Mrs. Garvey.
Young people came from all over the Maritimes. And they paid to consider chastity.
They heard talks by Maureen Whalen of Teen Aid, Saskatoon; CYPLO national president Alex Schadenberg, a student at Western University in London; and Beverly Hadland, Dr. Ron Siemens, a local family physician and pro-life doctor, participated in the weekend’s panel discussion.
The young people asked questions, debated, offered suggestions, made plans, and interacted socially. They went home challenged, inspired, and encouraged.
Following her talk at the CYPLO Conference, Beverly Hadland addressed a provincial youth rally in Summerside, organized by the Churches of the Nazarene. During the remainder of her tour, she spoke in centers all across the province.
Some school principals were refused permission to bring Beverly and her message into the schools. Others found ways to do so, and are eager to have her return for more extensive presentations. It is likely that they will influence other administrators to be more receptive.
The handful of university students interviewed by CBC scoffed at the notion of chastity. But it caught the imagination of the Island media. Every radio, TV and cable-vision station strove to carry an interview with these unusual but obviously sane and wholesome young people promoting the counter-culture philosophy of “abstinence until marriage provides the turning point.”
In an editorial terming chastity “not a bad concept,” one newspaper said, “The Canadian government seems to think it’s quite all right to spend millions to talk about condoms. Surely they should spend a few dollars on talking about the other options as well.”
The media coverage led to inquiries and invitations from several Maritime centers. And surprisingly, a hot line program featuring Beverly Hadland made the news in BC, and brought her an invitation from the Kiwanis Club in Chilliwack.
Altogether, Beverly spoke directly to about 1400 people and reached many more through the media.
Everywhere, Beverley’s inspiring message, vigorous delivery, and strong Christian witness had a very powerful impact.
More than 300 teens gave her standing ovations and showered her with hugs.
One Catholic priest saw her conversion experience as similar to that of St. Paul, and described her talk as “the greatest instruction on premarital sexuality and chastity that I have heard.”
Another plans to use the video of Beverly’s talk in the parish religion program.
“Clearly the Holy Spirit was actively involved in these undertakings, and spoke powerfully through Alex, Maureen, and Beverley,” declared Gay Garvey.
Representatives of Billings/PEI added, “Cynics may scoff, but even the media recognize that people have a deep, deep hunger for higher ideals and better suggestions than safe sex.”
Both CYPLO and Billings are now considering ways to build on this beginning.