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Parents Torn On Controversial Decision; Service Would Offer Teens Absolute Confidentiality As Well As Counseling

Mari Calvi for wcbstv.com

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. (CBS) - Is it providing high school students a needed service or shutting parents out of their teen's lives? A recent decision by the Port Chester Board of Education has some thinking it's too much intrusion.

As Port Chester High School gets ready for the new school year, officials have signed off on a new service that will offer free testing for sexually transmitted diseases and even pregnancy testing to any student who asks.

"Like any other high school we have teen pregnancy so when a young lady comes down we can offer a test and guide her and refer them from that point," Superintendent Donald K. Carlisle said.

Carlisle said it's simply an extension of the comprehensive health services already provided to students. Students requesting the tests will be able to receive them without needing parental permission. Parents would also not be advised of test results.

Debra Gerson, a physician with Open Door, the group that runs the program, said that kind of confidentially is essential.

"There are times when they don't feel safe and they really need to have a place where they can come and disclose," Dr. Gerson said.

Port Chester parents CBS 2 HD spoke with were divided on that part of the program.

"Some of them are embarrassed so they can come to a counselor or a school nurse they trust and I think it's a good thing," parent Beatrice Alvarez said.

"I would like my children to count on me. I would like my opinion to be counted," Solange Valencia said.

The school board president was the lone vote against the measure. In a newspaper interview, Anne Capeci said, "I would like 'Open Door' to use the medical facility downtown and not use the school as a quasi-maternity clinic."

But school officials said this is just the reality of taking care of students in today's world.

"I think this is progressive and I see this as a positive," Carlisle said.

The Open Door clinics are federally funded. Among the services they provide are immunizations, physicals, and vision and hearing screenings.
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Adriana
While I think it's good for teens to have places to turn to (and I think making it hard for them to find help can be harmful), this does seem odd to have in school.
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