Contraceptive access well-received at school board meeting
The Forest Grove School Board will vote on a policy change that would allow for nurse practitioners at the Forest Grove school-based health center to prescribe contraceptives to any student, should they request it, at the next meeting on Monday, April 23.
Board Chairwoman Kate Grandusky expressed her approval of the idea at the first hearing on Monday, April 9. No board members spoke up in opposition.
"It's an important issue not only for educational information," Grandusky said. "But we want our kids to graduate. We want them to be safe."
Several audience members spoke out in favor of the policy changes, including parents, Forest Grove High School alumni, a Washington County commissioner, a state representative and several medical professionals.
No audience members spoke out in opposition.
"I think providing additional access to contraceptive education and contraceptive care is incredibly powerful in terms of a tool for allowing students to make positive and healthy decisions for themselves," said Joshua Gietzen, who graduated from Forest Grove High School in 2005.
Washington County Commissioner Greg Malinowski said he spoke for himself, not the entire Board of Commissioners, in favoring the policy change.
Malinowski is up for re-election in District 2, which covers northeastern Washington County, including parts of Hillsboro and Beaverton, on May 15.
Hillsboro Rep. Janeen Sollman, a former Hillsboro School Board member and 1987 graduate of Forest Grove High School, also addressed the school board in support of the change.
"You have seen and heard the facts about the (teen) pregnancy rate in the Forest Grove (School District)," Sollman said. "Your students deserve to have the school-based health center at their campus serve the needs for their health and well-being."
Sollman was referring to Forest Grove reportedly having the highest rate of teen pregnancies in Oregon.
Under Oregon law, children as young as 15 can seek medical care without parental permission and students of any age are able to seek contraceptive services without parental approval.
The board originally planned to hold two hearings before voting, though the unanimous support at Monday's meeting seemed to push the board to speed up the process by planning to vote at the next meeting.
While several board members actually suggested the board vote on the matter at Monday's meeting, Grandusky preferred that the board wait for all school board members to be present, as Mark Everett was not in attendance.
Forest Grove's school-based health center is currently the only one of six school-based health centers across Washington and Yamhill counties to not offer contraceptive services to its students.
Forest Grove's school-based health center is located beside Forest Grove High School at 1715 Nichols Lane and is open to all community members up to the age of 21 in the Forest Grove, Banks and Gaston school districts.
By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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