Thursday, October 18, 2007

Maine Middle School to Offer the Pill

Portland, Maine school officials voted to permit a middle school to dispense contraceptives. Yes, a middle school--and we are not talking about condoms, we are also talking about birth control pills.
Pupils at a city middle school will be able to get birth control pills and patches at their student health center after the local school board approved the proposal Wednesday evening.

The plan, offered by city health officials, makes King Middle School the first middle school in Maine to make a full range of contraception available to students in grades 6 through 8, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services....

The Portland School Committee voted 5-2 for the measure.

Chairman John Coynie voted against it, saying he felt providing the birth control was a parental responsibility. The other no vote came from Ben Meiklejohn, who said the consent form does not clearly define the services being offered.

Opponents cited religious and health objections.

Diane Miller said she felt the plan was against religion and against God. Another opponent, Peter Doyle, said he felt it violated the rights of parents and puts students at risk of cancer because of hormones in the pill.

A supporter, Richard Verrier, said it's not enough to depend on parents to protect their children because there may be students who can't discuss things with their parents.

Condoms have been available since 2002 to King students who have parental permission to be treated at its student health center.
I hope it is not just me that feels quesy about this step. I certainly hope that the school health center must obtain specific consent to dispense contraceptives rather than just a generalized consent to dispense drugs, but I would not be surprised if it were not required.

The sexualization of our youngsters is bad enough when talking about consumer products such as dolls (the Bratz line in particular) or clothes (do 10-year-old girls really need thong underwear marketed to them?) because parents can exercise reasonable control over the purchases of their children. But when contraception in the form of condoms has been available to 11, 12 and 13 year olds in a middle school for five years and now contraceptive drugs are now available, we have strayed into an utterly surreal world. We need to be teaching our 11-13 year olds about responsible sexual behavior and at 13, that should include a warning that they don't need contraceptives because they shouldn't be engaging in any activity that would require such drugs.

The hypersexualization of American kids needs to stop.

Only one member of the school board in Portland got this right. Contraception is a duty of the parents and there is no reason for a school health center to be providing these services. I can envision a reasonalbe argument for high schools (I don't like it but I can see the rationale), but not for middle schools.

I don't brook the argument that "kids are going to do it whether we counsel against it or not." Such an argument is a surrender to the notion that kids run the world and the schools. I also don't brook the argument that some kids don't feel comfortable talking about sex with their parents. No kid does, but that doesn't detract from the parental responsiblity to do so. It is not a fun conversation for either side, but it is one that is just as important as "Don't do drugs."

Political leaders and school officials issue a regular hew and cry about the lack of parental involvement in our children's schooling and lives. Yet then we have steps like this one which not offers a mechanism for parents to abdicate their role, but practically begs the parent to not be involved in this aspect of their kids lives because the school makes these services available.

1 comment:

dee said...

I just read a really well thought out commentary on this subject. At first I was kind of ambivalent, but this person made a lot of sense.

Here is the link if you are interested