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King Middle School
At King Middle School, five of the 134 students (3.7 percent) who visited the school's health center during the 2006-2007 year admitted to being sexually active.
Douglas S. Gardner, the director of Portland's health and human services department, said in a statement that it was these admissions that led to the proposal voted on yesterday.
The proposal, which was passed with a vote of 10 to 2, will enable King Middle School students to obtain prescription birth control pills and patches from the school's health center.
Although many student health centers distribute condoms to the 11, 12, and 13-year-old age group, King will be the first middle school in the state to offer other contraceptive devices. According to the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care, nearly 30 percent of the 1,700 school-based health centers in the country currently provide birth control to students.
'This is a service that is totally needed,' said Amanda Rowe, a nurse from Portland's student health centers. 'It's about very few kids, but they are kids who don't have the same opportunities and access as other students.'
Not everyone agrees with Rowe, however. There were some parents at the committee meeting that opposed the idea, citing everything from religious conflicts to a violation of parental rights.
It was noted at the meeting that parents do have the right to restrict their child's access to student health services. Students must have parental permission to be treated or counseled at Portland student health centers.
State law, however, does give students the right to keep the services they receive confidential. In other words, students are not required to disclose to their parents what kind of health care and services were provided.
Are Middle School Students Sexually Active?
According to the Maine Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the percentage of middle school students who admit to having sexual intercourse has receded between 1997 and 2005.
This statewide survey is not mean to represent King Middle School, but it does indicate that while percentages are dwindling, there are a surprising number of middle school students who have birth control on their mind.