Ken Connor

The school board in Portland, Maine, has decided that a health clinic at King Middle School will dispense birth-control pills to students without informing their parents. It already dispenses condoms to students who typically range in age from 11 to 14. All that's required is that the students undergo a checkup and get some counseling.

I don't know about you, but I would wring the neck of any so-called health care professional that gave my middle-schooler birth control without my knowledge or consent. Who does Dr. Quackers think he is deciding what's best for my child? Last time I checked, he wasn't there when my child was up all night worrying about monsters in the closet, or agonizing over whether to wear the red or the blue dress to school, or dealing with the pain of rejection from the "in crowd." I don't recall him paying the bills for dance lessons, music lessons or the orthodontist. I didn't see him at my child's first ball game or ballet debut.

There is a word for the adults who bear the responsibility of making decisions for their minor children. It's spelled p-a-r-e-n-t-s. Parents are the ones charged with the responsibility of making important, life-altering decisions for their offspring who, because of their youth or immaturity, are not yet qualified to make those decisions for themselves. Parents, along with their kids, are the ones who live with the consequences of those decisions. The doctors don't. The nurses don't. And the members of the school board darn sure don't! And all the Ph.D.'s, M.D.'s, and R.N. degrees in the world will not qualify them to substitute their judgment for that of the people who gave birth to, and sacrificed for, their children. Parents are the people who know their children best and love them most. They are the ones with the God-given right and responsibility to make important health care decisions for their children and to counsel them about sensitive issues like sexual activity and birth control.

I know that there are some parents who aren't fit or who abdicate their parental responsibilities. In such instances it may be necessary for the state to intervene in loco parentis. But that's not what is going on at King Middle School. The educrats on the school board made a blanket decision that affects all the parents and all the children at that school.

The arrogance of the school board in Portland is breathtaking. By their decision, these officials maintain that they—rather than parents—know what is in the best interest of the parents' children when it comes to sexual health and well being. These know-it-all bureaucrats have, therefore, determined to dispense sexual aids and medication without the parents' knowledge or consent. But mark it down: those bureaucrats won't be the ones that have to make the tough decisions—financial, emotional and social—for the "tween" age child faced with unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease who thought that a condom or pill was adequate insurance against such calamities. Nope, those decisions will fall back on the parents.

Parents in Portland need to get a grip. They need to take charge of their kids and control of their schools. The bureaucrats have run amok and need to be shown the door. Unless the parents begin to exercise leadership, they and their kids will be the ones who suffer.


Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.