Some say student clinic keeps parents in dark about controversial care
District: Clinic's main focus is to provide general care for students
BELOIT, Wis. — There’s growing concern for some in Beloit over the high school’s health clinic helping students gain access to controversial care without parental consent.
High school is a time when most students worry about cramming for the latest test and the school dance.
But community members fear if students at Beloit Memorial High School face more serious problems related to their health, the school clinic’s new medical provider would keep parents in the dark.
“When you bring an organization like this into the school, the child trusts these people and that’s going to be the person that helps them through this problem,” former school board member Pam Charles said.
BMHS has provided a health care clinic for students over the past three years, but it’s this year’s change of medical provider that’s raising concerns for parents and community members.
“They do dispense contraceptives at their (other) clinic. Why are they going to expect anything less to happen at the school? I just don’t know that the school can direct the clinic in how to treat its patients,” Charles said.
Community Action will provide reproductive health care, preventive health care and education once at week at BMHS.
Community Action takes an abstinence-first approach to reproductive health education, but they will provide pregnancy testing and education, according to a release from the clinic. Condoms and other forms of contraception will not be distributed at the high school, and clinic staff will not write prescriptions for contraception at the high school.
The student clinic also provides testing, education and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
Community Action staff members will provide the same services previously offered by Beloit Area Community Health Center, according to the release.
District officials said the clinic’s main focus is to be able to provide general care for their students.
“We do deal with a lot of kids that do not come from affluent families, and this is their best opportunity for total health care,” said Scott McNeal, Beloit superintendent.
McNeal said birth control and information on abortions will not be given on campus. The school instead offers health education classes focused on abstinence.
“What really disappoints me is the way sometimes people act and they take things that are really good for kids and for the health and safety of our students and they try to turn it into a battle that is not there,” he said.
However, with Community Action’s clinic just blocks away from the school, Charles said the battle is not over.
She is asking for the board to postpone the opening of the clinic in October until a vote can be taken.
“Having parents left completely in the dark is a huge issue for us and we realize that Community Action is telling the school board that they will not be providing these things. However, their clinic is just right around the block. If a kid can make it to Taco Bell, they can make it to Community Action,” Charles said.
Despite concerns, the school plans to continue forward with the reopening of the clinic Oct. 15.