Tigard-Tualatin board got it right on contraceptives
Credit goes to the Tigard-Tualatin School Board on its recent decision to allow the distribution of contraceptives at both high schools' health clinics.
First, kudos go to the board for listening. The board held two separate public hearings on the topic, in January and in February, before making a decision.
At the first event, dozens of people spoke, and all of them were in favor of contraceptive distribution at the health centers. But the board knew it was wading into controversial territory, so a second hearing was set.
The response in February wasn't unanimous: Eight people testified during public comment on the issue Monday, Feb. 26; six in favor of the proposal and two opposed.
In all, the district received 102 comments in person or via email on the contraceptives issue.
That slower, more methodical approach should appease those who think contraceptives have no place in a high school health clinic. Nobody was steamrolled on this issue. The board took its time and listened.
The decision was the right one. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2011 and 2015, an estimated 42 percent of never-married teen females and 44 percent of never-married teen males had experienced sexual intercourse at least once.
A 2017 Oregon Healthy Teens Survey showed that 5 percent of eighth-graders and 36 percent of high school juniors in the Tigard-Tualatin School District have had sexual intercourse.
The notion that young people wouldn't have sex if they didn't have contraceptives has been proven false for generations now.
Teen pregnancy and birth rates have been declining since the early 1990s, according to the CDC, and reached historic lows at 22.3 per 1,000 females, ages 15 to 19, in 2015. But the U.S. rates are still higher than those in other developed countries. For example, in 2011, the teen birth rate in Canada was 13 per 1,000; it was 7 per 1,000 in France and 5 per 1,000 in German, for the same age cohort over the same year.
The high schools' health clinics are run by the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center. The centers don't turn away students based on their ability to pay for services.
Before this decision, the closest place for students to get affordable birth control was at the Planned Parenthood in Beaverton, which can be difficult for some youths to reach.
The district twice before declined to allow contraceptives to be provided or prescribed, once in 2008 and again in 2012.
This time, the board took its time, asked for public input, listened carefully, and voted in favor of students' overall health.
This was a good decision, done right.