* Note: Alexandria City Schools School Board Meeting tonight!
As a taxpaying citizen of Alexandria, VA, a former educator, and a person who values our young people and wants them to have the best options available, I am outraged that the public school system in Alexandria is funding a local teen health center, with a primary focus on family planning. Moreover, I strongly disagree with the planned move of the center from its current location in a trailer outside a nearby shopping center, directly into T.C. Williams High School so that center workers will have unlimited access to students.
Not only do I not want my hard-earned tax dollars supporting this endeavor, but more importantly, I am convinced that this move undermines parental authority, is costly to our city, and most importantly does a huge disservice to young people.
The center provides services for youth aged 12-19 years old, dispenses contraception and refers for abortion without parental permission. The teen center also provides other services, interestingly, all which require parental permission, such as routine physical exams, vaccinations, treatment of minor illnesses. However the primary focus of the center is family planning, STD treatment and abortion referral.
Given that research continually supports the fact that sexual involvement at a young age is not good for adolescents, especially girls, why would T.C. Williams and Alexandria City Schools consider this a good decision for our young peoples health?
A study released less than two weeks ago again showed that abstinent teens report better psychological well-being and higher educational attainment than those who are sexually active. Another recent study stated that sexual abstinence is typically associated with better physical and psychological health among American adolescents, including less problems with depression, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), infertility later in life, addiction to drugs and alcohol, and academic achievement. This same study indicated that girls are significantly more likely to suffer from depression when they are sexually active than adolescent boys.
Not only is teen sexual involvement bad for young people, but it is also extraordinarily costly to our economically burdened city. In FY10, employee salaries were frozen due to the financial crisis, yet teen STI, out-of-wedlock childbearing and emotional and psychological harm are expensive social service projects for the City of Alexandria.
Additionally excluding parents from these important decisions removes the strongest support and influence in a young persons life. While it might not always seem to be the case that young people want to talk about the birds and the bees with mom and dad, studies show that in fact teens do want to hear from their parents on these matters, and actually consider them the most influential people in their lives when it comes to sexual decision making. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a parent most influences a young persons decision to become sexually involved.
According to this poll,
- 9 out of 10 teens (94%) think that adults should let teens know they should wait to have sex at least until they get out of high school
- Nearly 9 out of 10 (88%) teens say it would be easier to avoid early sexual activity and teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversations about these topics with their parents
What are better options?
In early January, a rigorous study was released that compared abstinence education with contraceptive sex education. The study overwhelmingly supported abstinence education as the most effective in reducing sexual initiation among young teens, to the extent that even detractors of abstinence education admitted this fact.
Parents also strongly prefer the message of abstinence to contraceptive sex education. A recent poll showed that parents prefer abstinence education 2 to 1.
The funding of the clinic and planned move into TC Williams raise a number of questions and concerns. Why would Alexandria City Schools not offer that which is healthiest and most efficacious for young people? And why is the school system undermining the parent/child relationship, especially regarding topics as important as sexual decision-making? In a moment when we are looking to cut the fat out of the budget, why would we spend money on a prevention program that is not good for kids, and will ultimately cost the taxpayers more money?
I strongly encourage you to get the word out about this clinic. Here is the press release from Feb 28th from Alexandria City Schools.
The school board is meeting on tonight, Tuesday, March 2nd. If you would like to speak about this issue at the meeting, contact Rosemary Webb, clerk of the school board, and ask to speak at the meeting. You can contact the school board by clicking here.