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Miss Mankato's Platform Stirs Up Controversy

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The head of the Miss Mankato pageant says the reigning pageant winner isn't getting the support she deserves from the community.

Shelly Bartlett says Miss Mankato Gabrielle Chavers' message on abstinence is the source of the problem.

Gabrielle Chavers says, "I want to be a role model and example to other young women like myself who chose to live an abstinent lifestyle and I hope to inspire other women to do the same."

Her platform---Abstinence: You're worth the wait.

Chavers says, "The thing with my platform is that I'm not saying you have to wait until you're married, but wait until you're in a committed relationship and you love that person."

Today she was the guest at the Sertoma Club... However, Miss Mankato Director Shelly Bartlett says she hasn't been invited to do many speaking engagements based on the subject matter.

Shelly Bartlett says, "The past platforms have been on AIDS awareness, social justice for sexual assault victims. But there was no controversy. They got to go in all the schools. We really haven't had any resentment or any doors closing. We had open arms up until now."

Chavers was invited to address health classrooms at Mankato East High School but Bartlett says she deserves a bigger audience as the current titleholder.

East High School's Principal Jeff Dahline says "It's not about subject matter. It's about classroom time. Our students have a lot of things thrust at them...testing days, lots of curriculum to get through, and we have many requests.

So we really to prioritize and make sure our student's time and access is something we take serious."

One group that gave a flat 'no' to Chavers was Project GEM, a nonprofit that welcomed Miss Mankato in the past.

The program is geared toward high–risk youth including those who are pregnant. They said in a statement. statement:

"This topic is not something that these high risk students can relate to."

Despite the controversy, Chavers says she is content with speaking to small classroom sizes rather than an auditorium.