Re: mobilize teens...

Linda Purrington (
Thu, 19 Feb 1998 09:37:00 -0800

Forwarded from Women Leaders Online News and Discussion List by
Linda Purrington <>

It isn't something many of us have thought about, unless we've gotten
caught by the legal short hairs--but parents really are responsible
legally for everything that happens to our children until the age of
majority. And people who do not have children are nevertheless
responsible socially for the work that must be done in behalf of the
next generation.
The schools are largely channels for mainstream thinking, somewhat
guided by federal law, such as Title IX, but eroded in many places by
backward state and regional law/practice. As long as we do not insist on
using Title IX to initiate and protect the right of teens to receive
equal education without discrimination in the schools, we are not
protecting their right to receive information about contraceptives,
abortion, and full-spectrum support for their health issues, which are
part of their civil rights.
As long as the women's movement does not take up the issue of Title IX,
and insist on filing legal briefs that plead to Title IX, thereby
expanding the uses and precedents leading to it in case law, we will
have left our children, both boys and girls, subject to a brutal
ignorance of their own bodies/lives. At the moment, the only program
taught to girls in the schools is abstinence, despite all the laws that
stand unused in the closet to protect their right to choose, and despite
all the blather about wanting to reduce teenage pregnancies.
Did you know, by the way, that the U.S. Supreme Court has so far
refused to confirm that a girl who is hrassed in school by her peers,
without the school intervening to protect her, is protected under Title
IX, although Title IX is the only law that might be pleaded to cover
this situation--which is daily fare for all our daughters in school? Did
you know that increasingly lower districts are confirming the girls
right to protection, and the next decade will see the first Supreme
Court cases on the subject--if women's activists are successful? And did
you know that until the Supreme Court does confirm those rights, the
parents--and among them many poor and single mothers who receive very
little backup--are held responsible for any damage to their own
children's education that arises from the daily, pervasive sexual
harassment in the elementary, high, and college schools?
Such parents find it hard to break out of isolation, find the time and
money to band together, espedcially because the fundies have given
parents' rights such a bad name. Therefore, we women activists are the
ones who must make Title IX a household word, a teen slang word, known
everywhere around the country. Pin it up in bathrooms, stick it up in
phone booths. Send e-mail infobits to everyione you know. Psst:
Forward this message. Until we get free education, we will never be
free. wrote:
> Birth-control access irks conservatives
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> By Sean Scully
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> A trio of House conservatives want to stop what they say is a national
> disgrace: American teen-agers can get prescription birth control -- at
> federal taxpayer expense -- without the knowledge and consent of their
> parents.
> "We make laws saying parents are legally responsible for their
> children's actions until the children become adults," said Rep. Donald
> Manzullo, Illinois Republican. "But then we rip parents from the equation
> when it comes to something as critical and potentially dangerous as
> sexual activity."
> Mr. Manzullo introduced legislation last week requiring the 4,500
> federally funded family planning clinics to give parents at least five
> days written notice before giving teen-agers birth control. The House
> narrowly defeated a similar measure last fall.
> "That [program] has led the federal government to be the
> schoolmaster of iniquity," said Rep. Christopher B. Cannon, Utah
> Republican and one of the congressmen seeking to end the practice, along
> with Rep. Ernest Istook, Oklahoma Republican.
> But opponents say the proposal would gut the federal family planning
> program known as Title X. The $203 million program began during the Nixon
> administration as a way to help low-income women get birth-control advice
> and other health care.
> The federal clinics, run by state health departments or private
> nonprofit organizations, serve about 5 million women per year, offering
> them a wide range of medical care, said Tom Kring, spokesman for the
> Department of Health and Human Services. About a third of those women are
> teen-agers.
> "Ironically enough, [the change] would lead to an increase in
> sexually transmitted diseases, an increase in teen pregnancy, and an
> increase in abortions," the very things the three sponsors want to avoid,
> said David Kohn, spokesman for Rep. John Edward Porter, Illinois
> Republican, who helped defeat Mr. Manzullo's effort last year.
> Family planning groups say that notifying parents would rip away the
> traditional confidentiality of the program. Teens might be afraid to come
> in for help.
> "For us, preventing unintended pregnancies is paramount," said
> Andrea Young, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan
> Washington. "Unfortunately, teens may or may not have parental permission
> to become sexually active -- it's a difficult thing to prevent -- but we
> feel they should not be discouraged from doing what's responsible."
> But Mr. Manzullo said the program provides a cover for sexual abuse,
> which could be prevented if parents knew their children were having sex.
> He points to a case in his own district where a 37-year-old school
> teacher began having sexual relations with a 13-year-old student. The
> teacher drove the girl to a federally funded clinic, which gave her a
> birth-control shot without her parent's knowledge.
> "The issue is whether sexual predators should be subsidized by a
> federal program," Mr. Manzullo said.
> Mr. Porter and Rep. Michael N. Castle, Delaware Republican, say they
> have already addressed the problem. Legislation enacted last year
> requires the federal clinics to encourage teen-agers to discuss birth
> control with their parents and give the teen-agers advice on reporting
> coercive or abusive sexual relationships.
> Mr. Manzullo's renewed effort has the backing of conservative
> organizations, including the Family Research Council, the Eagle Forum,
> and the Catholic Alliance.
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