I've largely decided that I'm going to take a three-part approach to what I tell her:
- Wait 'til college if you can, because you're going to be a bit older and a bit smarter and a bit more able to deal with potential fallout.
- If you don't wait until college, and end up with a problem, then you can come to me or your mom. We won't let you off the hook for making a bad decision, and we won't sugarcoat everything and validate everything, but we will help you and support you whatever the decision you make is.
- Whenever you want to get on the pill, you get on the pill. Don't get me wrong, I will probably make your evening unpleasant if you come to me at 12 wanting the pill, and I'll lay out in no uncertain terms why you're too young -- but when I'm done, we'll go to Planned Parenthood and get you the pill (after you talk to the nice people at Planned Parenthood, who will probably say what I said, only more diplomatically). I would rather you're not sexually active that young, but I'd really rather you're not sexually active and pregnant that young.
In Portland, Maine, a middle school is facing a situation where a few students (five of 510) are old enough to be in high school, but are not for whatever reason. And the school district has made the decision to allow those students to get prescriptions for birth control:
King Middle School will become the first middle school in Maine, and apparently one of only a few in the nation, to make a full range of contraception available, including birth-control pills and patches.
Students would need parental permission to use the city-run health center in the school, but they wouldn't have to tell them they were seeking birth control.
Seems reasonable enough. And since parents know their kids could get birth control from that health center, they can weigh that as a factor in giving their kids permission to use the health center. I'm not saying it's advisable for 13-year-olds to be having sex, but given that the average person in America loses their virginity between 14 and 15, I think it's reasonable to take steps to mitigate potential disaster.
And there is, in fact, a reason that the district did what it did:
Portland's three middle schools had seven pregnancies in the last five years, said Douglas Gardner, director of Portland's Health and Human Services Department. He said early reports of 17 pregnancies during the last four years were erroneous.So the district is taking an extraordinary step to help stem a pregnancy problem that it already going on -- trying to prevent teen pregnancy (and, while they're at it, prevent abortions, too). So I'm sure the right is understanding, right?
The King Middle School is among Portland's most diverse schools, with 31 languages spoken there and 28 percent of its students foreign-born. The school, located on the same peninsula as downtown Portland, draws from the islands in Casco Bay, wealthier neighborhoods overlooking the bay, and low-income triple deckers.
Fifty-four percent of the students are part of the federal free lunch program, which is an indicator of poverty.
Yeah, right. Stalkin' Malkin links to this Michael Graham piece, which reaches the eighth circle of dumb:
Liberal activists supporting the King Middle proposal claim it’s necessary because some of their students are sexually active. Of course they are - you’re giving them sex aids! What are they supposed to do with birth control? Use it to control weight gain? Trade it for Oxy?
The only reason to give 12-year-olds the pill is because they’re having sex. But sex with a 12-year-old is a felony in Maine, so who are they supposed to have this sex with? Other 12-year-olds?
Mikey? It's me, Jeff. Let me say this in words you'll understand:
They're already having sex with other twelve-year-olds, you fucking moron.
The funny thing is, Graham links the story to a story about a 17-year-old getting busted for statutory rape for having sex with a 15-year-old, which Graham finds perfectly cromulent.
Guess what, Mike? People don't just wake up at 15 and decide to have sex that day. They've usually been building up to it for years, since the onset of puberty. As I said above, I'd like my daughter to be 18 before she makes that decision, and not make the decision one second earlier than she wants to. I certainly don't want her sexually active at 12.
But you know what? Kids make dumb decisions. They do it all the damn time. You made bad decisions. I made bad decisions. It may have been about sex, or about driving too fast, or about not doing homework when we were supposed to, but they were bad decisions, and we made them. We can take steps to mitigate the fallout of bad decisions, or we can simply make sure that in addition to making the decision to have sex too soon, girls are then subjected to all the wonder of an unplanned pregnancy. Kids have an excuse for making bad decisions on their own behalf. Adults have a responsibility to help them. Leaving them to fend for themselves seems like a far worse decision than having sex. But maybe it's just me.