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Parents should decide what's best for teens

Lynn HarrisNot surprisingly, the four high school students who spoke at the Hillsboro School Board meeting on Tuesday, March 15, were in favor of the School-Based Health Center’s handing out contraceptives.

And why wouldn’t they be in favor? Unless they live in a home where morality is taught and modeled, there is little in society that cautions them that sex, by its nature, is life-creating and, consequently should be exclusive to couples who have legally pledged their fidelity for the sake of the marriage and the welfare of the children.

Those opposed to SBHCs’ handing out contraceptives were concerned that promiscuous sex has many devastating side effects which young people seldom recognize. Engaging in this most intimate physical and psychological act with multiple partners leads to low self-esteem, especially among young women, and sometimes to suicide. Moreover, when contraceptives fail, the results can lead to pregnancies and to STDs, which can affect future health and fertility. Also the long-term effect contraceptives can have on girls as they are going through adolescent hormonal changes is still unknown.

My major concern is that clinic personnel are given the authority to decide in lieu of parents what is best for their children. Given the recent track record of sex education in Oregon, parents have the right to be suspicious as more and more of their rights and responsibilities are being usurped by those who apparently “know better.”

Thanks to Channel 6’s 2015 investigation of the Seaside Conference, the public called for the end of this 20-year conference which, under the guise of providing leadership training for some of our best and brightest students in grades 6 to 12, had exposed them to pornographic activities, materials and devices.

Just last fall, parents were asked to sign a consent form so that their child could receive medical treatment at the SBHC. The seemingly innocuous form, however, acts as a blanket consent that allows clinic personnel to also treat the student without parents’ knowledge to such services as “age appropriate reproductive health” (contraceptives) and “referral to health care services not provided by clinics” (abortions), all of which can be billed to the parents’ insurance without their knowledge whatsoever.

The issue which is now before the Hillsboro School Board is the change to the guidelines for SBHCs regarding teenage sexual health. Three years ago when the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center was awarded the contract to run the SBHC in the Hillsboro School District, a contract which expires this May, its representatives were specifically asked at Century High School if contraceptives would be dispensed and referrals for abortions be given. The answer was “No.” Now that the contract is up for renewal, VGMHC, which would be accountable to no one, requested permission to dispense contraceptives and potentially make referrals to abortion clinics.

I would ask the Hillsboro School Board to look at the evidence and recognize that sex education has failed to live up to the promise to slow down sexual promiscuity, that there would be fewer pregnancies and less sexually transmitted diseases. Clearly, the data shows this is not the case.

I would ask the Hillsboro School Board to instead concentrate on “academic excellence” and let the parents, the vast majority of whom know their children best and love them most, be given back the responsibility of educating them on all matters sexual.

Lynn Harris is a Hillsboro resident and mother of six.