Teen pregnancy has been a concern for the board since a year ago, when a group of nursing interns from Oregon Health & Science University presented a study on the issue in Gervais.
Hensel said nine girls in the Gervais School District became pregnant this school year. That means 5 percent of the school district’s girls in grades six through 12 became pregnant.
“The decision was made to allow some specified teachers to have condoms that they could distribute after a discussion with the student,” Hensel said.
According to the draft minutes from the May 14 meeting, the school board was generally supportive of distributing condoms to students in grades six through 12, but were concerned about the details.
The board agreed to support the recommendation as long as the condoms were distributed by trained professionals, though they weren’t more specific.
Hensel said he assumed the responsibility would fall on health teachers. The motion passed unanimously.
When the OHSU nursing interns presented their study to board members one year ago, they said 7 percent of Gervais High School’s girls had experienced a pregnancy, according to the PowerPoint slides they showed.
The nursing students also discovered discrepancies between state law and Gervais School District’s sex education curriculum. Oregon requires schools to teach about both abstinence and contraception, but the slides did not indicate specifically how Gervais strayed from state law.
The presentation also pointed at the lack of access to condoms and information as a problem. Forty-two percent of Gervais High School students surveyed responded that they “never” or “sometimes” use anything to protect themselves from pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.
Gervais School District appears to have been left behind in the rest of the country’s successes in teen pregnancy. The Guttmacher Institute reported this month that Oregon’s teen pregnancy rate dropped to a historic new low.
However, black and Hispanic teens still were getting pregnant at twice the rate of white teens, according to the report. Almost 70 percent of the Gervais population is Hispanic.
According to Oregon Health Authority, 58 percent of the 539 teens who became pregnant in Marion County between 2010 and 2012 were Hispanic.
According to the school’s web site, “We, with the involvement of our culturally rich community, will provide a creative, enriching and safe environment, which instills a desire to become a life-long learner and a responsible citizen.”
If they want to “involve the community”, why not have a meeting with the parents and discuss this with them? And if they want to raise “responsible citizen(s)”, why not start with the parents who are primarily responsible for raising responsible citizen(s)?