The problems began the night of the pageant, when the pageant host announced that Miss Illinois' platform was on stopping teen violence, not the abstinence education platform with which Harold is identified throughout the state, the platform upon which she won the Miss Illinois title.
Now Miss America herself has spoken out. The Wash Times says:
Miss America 2003, Erika Harold, yesterday said pageant officials have ordered her not to talk publicly about sexual abstinence, a cause she has advocated to teenage girls in Illinois.
"Quite frankly, and I'm not going to be specific, there are pressures from some sides to not promote [abstinence]," the 22-year-old woman from Urbana, Ill., told The Washington Times.
In her first visit to Washington since winning the crown Sept. 21, Miss Harold resisted efforts by Miss America officials to silence her pro-chastity opinions.
"I will not be bullied," Miss Harold said yesterday at the National Press Club, as officials tried to prevent reporters from asking questions about her abstinence message.
The only previous news stories I found referencing her abstinence promotion were:
For Erika Harold, entrance into Harvard Law School will have to wait for one more year—until her reign as Miss America 2003 comes to a close. The conservative abstinence advocate claimed her crown with tears of joy and surprise at the Miss America Pageant on Saturday night. [Harvard student newspaper]
Before and up to winning the Miss Illinois title, she had promoted abstinence education for four years, working on behalf of Project Reality in Chicago. After she became Miss Illinois, the state program chose anti-violence and anti-bullying as her social-issue platform, deciding it was more pertinent, her father said. “Basically, she had to take on the new platform, which was also something she had a lot of passion for,” he said. “She will eventually integrate both issues, but in the beginning she'll have to promote the one issue and get it established.” [Champaign Illinois newspaper]