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March 9, 2012

School-Based “Health Clinics”

     

District 116 in Round Lake, Illinois is embroiled in a controversy over a proposal to put a "school-based health center" (formerly called school-based health clinics) in Round Lake High School.

School-based health centers are a creation of the Left. The beliefs that propel this movement are the same beliefs that drive the push for comprehensive sex ed. Liberals in the education and health care fields try to put innocuous, non-controversial aspects of school-based health clinics front and center, hoping that they can distract gullible taxpayers from their real agenda, which is to facilitate adolescent sexuality, to sever sexuality from moral considerations, to undermine the ties between children and their parents, and to render sexual activity immune from all consequences.
 
Here are ten issues to consider when debating the merits of installing school-based health centers in more public schools:

 1. Those who support school-based health centers believe that it is the role of government to provide everything to citizens that they see as good, which is why the United States is drowning in debt and spawning generations of citizens who lack personal fiscal discipline and a sense of responsibility for their own lives. We are becoming lazy, self-indulgent consumers who believe we're entitled to everything we want, but believe we have no responsibility to pay for it. This is not an indictment of truly needy people. This is a comment about liberals who control public schools and about those who have an entitlement mentality toward government, like the Georgetown University law student who believes that other people have an ethical obligation to pay for birth control for female students enrolled at one of the most prestigious and expensive law schools in the country.
 
 2. Taxpayers do foot the bill for school-based health centers. I was amazed at the statements made by pro-health center consultant Brenda Bannor who spoke at a District 116 school board meeting.

Bannor said that no school funds and "no tax dollars are used to operate the school-based health center…It will be run by the Lake County Health Deptartment. The school provides only the space and there's actually a federal grant that will be coming out that's specifically for building school-based health centers."

What, pray tell, does Bannor think federal grants are other than tax dollars?

Bannor goes on to say that Round Lake High School would use the Lake County Health Department to administer the health center because it is a "federally qualified health center" and therefore "they are able to get enhanced reimbursements through Medicaid." She stated that "there will be billing done, so the health center will be able to recoup dollars through billing." And she stated that the district will not be "asking the federal government to constantly fund the health center." How can Bannor say that money will be recouped by billing Medicaid and in the same sentence say that the government will not be constantly funding the health center?  Again, where does Bannor think funding for Medicaid comes from other than tax dollars?

Initially I thought Bannor didn't understand funding issues, but after reading her bio on the Millenia Consulting site, I realized that she couldn't possibly be as ignorant of funding issues as her statements to the district suggested. Therefore, I can't help but wonder if she was deliberately trying to mislead Round Lake community members.

 3. School-based health center advocates emphasize the parental consent form as a way to assuage the concerns of parents. What they don't fully explain is that the form is usually a general consent form, giving students permission to use the center.

These forms often fail to provide a detailed explanation of what parents are agreeing to. For example, parents might not realize that they are agreeing to allow their child to be provided with birth control or abortion referrals or be counseled in affirmative ways about same-sex attraction.

Many parents do not realize that the health center will not inform them when their child has used the center and cannot tell them if their child has received any mental health treatment or services related to sexual activity. Some on the Left will argue that teens can access mental health services and birth control through other organizations that must also conceal this information from parents. The difference, however, is that in those cases, public schools are not participating in the process.

 4. Liberal educators, who view themselves as "agents of change," believe that it is both the right and responsibility of public schools to solve all of society's ills. The scope of what liberal educators view as the role of public education is remarkable in its breadth. Liberal teachers believe it is their job to teach the "whole child," which is why we see public schools and publicly funded school-based health centers promoting liberal beliefs about homosexuality and gender confusion to other people's children. 

Of the school-based health centers that provide reproductive health services, 63% offer "sexual orientation counseling" on-site. Another 22% provide referrals for "sexual orientation counseling." Eighty percent provide on-site pregnancy testing. Seventy percent provide on-site birth control counseling. Is it really the task of public schools to make available these services during the school day? And is it really the public's responsibility to pay for these services to be provided to other people's children?

We need to think deeply about what the purpose of public education is and what it should be. Should the purpose of public education be to solve all teen problems? Is it to solve all societal ills? Just because a problem like teen pregnancy exists does not mean that it is the task of public schools to try to solve it, particularly when the solutions liberal educators propose are controversial and expensive. There are many societal problems that stand outside the purview of public education to solve. School-based health centers illegitimately expand the role of public schools.

Some parents, usually liberal, argue that they want their children to have access to reproductive services. But, the fact that some parents want their children to access reproductive services doesn't mean it's the role of public schools to provide them or for taxpayers to fund them.

 5.Promoters of school-based health centers believe that teens have an absolute, unfettered right to sexual autonomy and privacy in matters related to sexuality. They believe that the sexual liberty of minors should supersede parental rights.

 6.School based health centers provide mental health services that address homosexuality and gender confusion from a liberal perspective only, which means they provide counseling that affirms homosexual acts and gender confusion as normative, healthy, and moral. We must remember that these non-factual beliefs are being promoted with public money.

 7.School-based health centers are promoted as means to provide essential health care to "undocumented," students. But what kinds of services are taxpayers morally obligated to subsidize for those who are here illegally? An argument can be made that decent, compassionate people are morally obligated to pay for emergency care and illnesses, but are we obligated to pay for nutrition education, gender counseling, and contraceptives for anyone let alone people who are in the country illegally. The children of undocumented aliens are not responsible for being in this country illegally, but that doesn't make Americans responsible for paying for their birth control counseling or pills.

 8.The more money the government takes to "solve problems," which almost always results in costly, bureaucratic nightmares, the less money individuals have to give to organizations and institutions that offer better ways of solving problems, organizations like churches and parachurch organizations.

 9.When society continually uses the minority of irresponsible parents as justification for allowing the government to do more and more, as school-based health center proponents do, we actually rob responsible parents of the liberty to do their jobs. In addition, we encourage government dependence.

 10.When we remove all obstacles to and consequences for unmarried adolescent sexuality, we get more of it.
 Society has eliminated emotional and psychological consequences by eliminating social taboos about non-marital sex. We have been taught that guilt, shame, and fear are inherently bad when in reality appropriate guilt, shame, and fear serve important social functions.
 
We try to eliminate the physical consequences of sex by providing birth control, abortion, and free medicine.
 
And we try to eliminate all financial consequences by providing housing, medical care, and food stamps to unmarried mothers.
 
Some suggestions and questions for the District 116 School Board:

 •The school board should be required to provide a comprehensive summary of the pros and cons of school-based health centers to all district taxpayers after which they should ask for feedback.

 •This comprehensive summary should include the actual costs to taxpayers, including monies that will come from local, state, and federal coffers, including federal grants.

 •The feasibility study already conducted by District 116 states that it included discussions with "stakeholders." Anyone who pays taxes in District 116 is a stakeholder. Actually, since much of the funding is apparently coming from the federal government, the stakeholders are really every taxpayer in the nation. Were any community opponents of school-based health centers included in the discussions?

 •The feasibility study has a list of "Health Needs of District 116 Students" that includes "reproductive health services," "comprehensive sex ed," and "nutrition education." Some questions for the board should include the following: Exactly how many people were interviewed for the feasibility study? How were they chosen? Exactly how many people identified each item as a need? Were the categories of needs provided to the interviewees or were the questions open-ended? Isn't nutrition education addressed in health classes in middle school and high school?

 •Do community members understand in detail the differences between abstinence education and comprehensive sex ed? Were interviewees provided with research from organizations like the Heritage Foundation on the efficacy of abstinence education?
 
Some argue that teens are going to have sex regardless of what we want, so we should do everything we can to protect them from the worst consequences. But all teens are not going to have sex. Actually some teens decline sex when there are too many obstacles in place. In the good old days when parents were semi-feared authority figures, condoms were hard to come by, and society maintained taboos against non-marital sex, we didn't have astonishing rates of sexually transmitted infections; we didn't have between 800,000 to 900,000 teens getting pregnant annually; and we didn't have 230,000 thousand teen abortions each year.
 
Here are some other sexually related activities that some teens are going to engage in:

 •Some teens will have sex in public places. Should schools provide rooms for them to have sex in, in order to prevent these teens from getting caught by police?

 •Some teens will engage in autoerotic asphyxiation. Should schools provide ways to ensure that they don't accidentally die while engaging in this dangerous sexual practice?

 •Some teens will engage in sadomasochistic sexual practices. Should schools teach them about safe words?

 •And some teens will engage in oral-anal sexual practices. Should schools provide dental dams to them?
 
School-based health centers offer hypothetical scenarios that they believe show why these centers are necessary, like what if a teen is too afraid to talk to her parents and as a result has unprotected sex and contracts an infection or becomes pregnant. But conservatives can offer alternative hypotheticals. What if a teen who knows how strongly her parents feel about premarital sex and, therefore, fears talking to them, decides not to have sex because she can't easily access birth control?
 
Schools already have health centers in which students can be treated for chronic illnesses like diabetes, and emergencies and illnesses that occur during the school day. The central and most controversial purposes of these school-based health centers are to facilitate adolescent sexual activity and to offer counseling services that affirme homosexuality and gender confusion.
 
Public schools, even academically strong public schools, are playing an increasingly troubling role inAmerica's decline. Liberal educators seek to promote their moral and political beliefs and values with our money through our schools. In the process, they help to undermine children's conceptual understanding of family, to weaken family unity and parental rights, and to foster dependence on government.
 
If that's not bad enough, liberals seek to create a hedonist's utopia: guilt-free, cost-free, marriage-free sex. A healthy society — which is a society with a moral foundation — must not facilitate such a corrupt world. Facilitating something wrong is never right.
 
The problem with many conservatives is that they refuse to look at the big picture. They fail to realize that societal change rarely happens through dramatic single events. Rather, it happens through the slow, incremental accretion of smaller events that we ignore or dismiss, like the establishment of this school-based health center.

Contact: Laurie Higgins
Source: Illinois Family Institute