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Old 06-12-2007, 10:59 AM   #1
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Middle School Field Trip To Planned Parenthood

This is not another abortion debate thread. Please. Please. Just the question of the field trip.

Manchester Union Leader

Manchester NH

Students run into abortion protesters

By JOHN WHITSON
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Friday, Jun. 8, 2007

MANCHESTER – Middle school students in a YMCA program were confronted by abortion protesters outside Planned Parenthood on Pennacook Street Wednesday as they visited social service agencies throughout the city.

Forty-one seventh- and eighth-graders involved in the STAY program, a collaboration between the Greater Manchester YMCA and the school district, went on the tour, said Joyce Palmer, the YMCA's community outreach director.

The Support, Tutoring, Adventure for Youth Program has for 20 years offered programs at the city's four middle schools to students believed to be at risk of dropping out and turning to substance abuse, violence and other at-risk behavior.

"The intent of the day was to provide information to kids who are getting ready for the summer and won't have the support of school or at home," said Palmer. "The intent was not to take kids to an abortion clinic. That word was never said."

Mayor Frank Guinta, chairman of the city school board, rejected any justification for including Planned Parenthood on a field trip for young teenagers.

"I'm extremely disappointed," said the mayor. "I don't think it's appropriate for that age group, nor do I think it's appropriate for that kind of information to be disseminated to kids in that age group by a school program."

Guinta said he didn't know anything about the visit in advance. "I would expect that these types of trips won't take place in the future.

After fielding some phone calls from concerned parents yesterday, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Frank Bass said the trip to Planned Parenthood would be the district's first and last.

"We've talked to the YMCA and told them that in the future we're not going to visit Planned Parenthood," he said.

Bass said STAY has been a "wonderful program" for city schools and that Wednesday's confrontation was "an unfortunate set of circumstances."

Anne Johnson, the Planned Parenthood educator who spoke to the children Wednesday, said abortion was never discussed. She said she spoke for about three minutes about "the array of services that we offer, 96 percent of which are prevention."

Johnson said she'd like her agency to be part of any future site visits by the STAY program.

"We're pretty proud to have been selected," said Johnson. "It's a shame that people took this as an opportunity to harass kids."

Planned Parenthood was on a long list of places the children visited, including the Boys and Girls Club, the YWCA, the Office of Youth Services and the city library.

"At each place, a staffer met with kids and shared a two- to three-minute version of what they do, and how kids could access services if they need them," said Palmer.

The tour took place during school hours as part of the STAY program's monthly "adventure/community education day."

In a letter to Superintendent of Schools Michael Ludwell yesterday, the president of New Hampshire Right to Life strongly protested the Pennacook Street stop.

"Planned Parenthood exploits teens by promoting promiscuity, leading to the need for STD testing, birth control and abortion," wrote Darlene Pawlik.

"Are you and the Manchester School District cooperating with the usurpation of parental rights by delivering Manchester's children into the hands of Planned Parenthood?" she wrote.

Palmer said the confrontation wasn't anticipated ahead of time. "We just never thought about protesters," said Palmer. "It's not part of our everyday reality.

But Johnson said she called the YMCA before the children arrived and told them a half dozen protesters were outside.

"They were pretty invasive," said Palmer. "There was lots of yelling. One woman actually drove her van right next to (students), stopped her van, jumped out and told the staff person, 'I must talk to you.' She did that three times, then followed them for half a block."

She said the protesters tried to force literature on the school children.

Palmer said the children did not respond. "The kids did a great job," she said. "It was very disconcerting for all the kids and the staff as well."

Dawn Michaud, principal of Parkside Middle School, called the confrontation "unfortunate." She was aware in advance of the Planned Parenthood visit, but said she viewed the day as more of a job fair than a social services tour.

"It was just to see what's out there and prepare them for their futures," said Michaud.
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Old 06-12-2007, 12:15 PM   #2
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Quote:
"Planned Parenthood exploits teens by promoting promiscuity, leading to the need for STD testing, birth control and abortion," wrote Darlene Pawlik.
People need to educate themselves...


The idea that Planned Parenthood is an abortion clinic is misinformed.

I think sex education in this country absolutely sucks. I mean some of the misinformation I see coming out of "adults" in here is sometimes astonishing.

Do I think it needed to be part of an acutual field trip? Probably not, I think the info could have been taught in a classroom a lot more effectively.

I think running into the protestors alone starts clouding and warping the information at hand...
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Old 06-12-2007, 12:25 PM   #3
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Yeah that quote stuck out for me also.

It does seem odd that instead of sex ed in school they actually took a trip to PP, but I don't see a problem with it. Maybe the thought is that kids will be more attentive in a field trip situation, rather than just tuning out in the classroom.

And no, PP isn't an abortion clinic...in fact I don't think they even perform them at most PP centers (could be wrong though).
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Old 06-12-2007, 12:43 PM   #4
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Re: Middle School Field Trip To Planned Parenthood

Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen


"It was just to see what's out there and prepare them for their futures," said Michaud.
Probably all too true.
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Old 06-12-2007, 12:45 PM   #5
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I like that PP was one stop on a field trip to various social agencies. The social climate has changed so much that teens now are having to deal with things that few if any of us had to deal with when we were teens. I think it's good to show them where they can turn if they need help and aren't comfortable talking to a parent, teacher, or friend. Maybe actually taking them to PP rather than having a PP person visit the school will make them less reluctant to go there again if they need birth control, an STD test, or just someone to talk to. I can see how this would get people riled up, but I think it's a step in the right direction. The abstinence-based sex ed. many schools use just isn't realistic anymore; it's better to educate empower teens than to leave them to figure things out on their own and put themselves at risk.
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Old 06-12-2007, 01:02 PM   #6
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Quote:
"I'm extremely disappointed," said the mayor. "I don't think it's appropriate for that age group, nor do I think it's appropriate for that kind of information to be disseminated to kids in that age group by a school program."
I think the mayor is wrong. He seems to be unaware of what its like to be a young teen these days, or is it squeemish about sex education. Middle school aged kids are aware of what pressures they will be facing - or are already facing. It is best that they be receive PP information, because they are not going to get it from sex education. And even if they did get the proper sex ed that is needed, it is still good that they visit PP and get an idea of what resources are out there in case they would need them. Plus, it would further help them make the right sexual choices.
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Old 06-12-2007, 01:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonoIsMyMuse
The abstinence-based sex ed. many schools use just isn't realistic anymore; it's better to educate empower teens than to leave them to figure things out on their own and put themselves at risk.


i agree with the post, but i'd argue that abstinence-based education has never worked, and continues not to work and will never work because it's grounded in fear and bad information.

i also don't think things have changed all that much for teens. teens were having sex 100 years ago and 50 years ago and 10+ years ago when i was in high school. i think we know more now, i think we get more worked up now, i think we're more ready to scream that there's some kind of crisis now, but there's actually a whole lot of good news.

teen pregnancy continues to decline after reaching a peak in the late 1980s, and i think much of this has to do with the overall effectiveness of organizations like PP. people might bemoan, for example, the anecdotal evidence of some sort of "epidemic" of oral sex amongs teens (sex surveys being perhaps the least reliable ones out there). but so what? sure, it's possible to transmit disease through oral sex, but it's nearly impossible to transmit HIV and it's impossible to get pregnant (and i like the idea of an expectation of reciprocity -- it takes the power imbalance off of so much of male/female sexual relations).

what is your biggest concern? abstemious, pure teens? or the reduction of harmful diseases and unwanted pregnancies?

i would contend that teens knowing more about sex -- knowing that, no, you're not going to get pregnant with oral sex, or that, yes, Jocelyn Elders was right and masturbation can offer a 15 year old a world of relief -- leads to kids making better decisions than these idiotic "Virginity Pledges" one hears about in more conservative communities. because those kids might wait a year or two to have sex, but when they do, they're less likely to use protection, or to even know how protection works.

for whatever that's worth.
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Old 06-12-2007, 02:50 PM   #8
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I was lucky to have a fantastic and open health teacher, who despises abstinence-based learning and essentially any "scare tactic curriculum" that the state wanted him to teach. He was very open with the class and straightforward, and had to deal with parents on a few issues who said things like, "By telling them the best way to treat ecstacy, you are encouraging them to use it!"

I'm always for more knowledge as opposed to less.
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Old 06-12-2007, 03:31 PM   #9
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I went to Catholic school, so of course the little sex ed. we had was abstinence- based. In my middle school health class, we spent weeks on the dangers of smoking and drugs, then when we were supposed to start our unit on AIDS, the teacher decided that our class should be helping with spring cleaning projects around the school. It was absolutely ridiculous. So many people went through all of high school thinking you could catch HIV from hugging an infected person, and other misconceptions that so easily could've been avoided.

When I mentioned above about the social climate changing, I meant generally and not just in terms of sex ed. Teens today are facing the same pressures we did 10 or 15 years ago, but it seems like they're facing some of them sooner than we did. The media also handles things a lot differently than they once did--there's more openness about teen depression, for instance, and teens and eating disorders, and teens and violence. Avoidance is no longer a realistic way to try to prepare teens for any of the pressure they'll face (not that it ever was). Because of this openness, parents and educators have to stop trying to "protect" teens and focus more on helping them learn to make the best-informed choices that they can.
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Old 06-12-2007, 03:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonoIsMyMuse
Teens today are facing the same pressures we did 10 or 15 years ago, but it seems like they're facing some of them sooner than we did.


i would agree with that. it does seem as if the bad/hard stuff, the adult stuff, is starting a year or two sooner than it did for me.

or maybe i was naive in high school.
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Old 06-12-2007, 04:11 PM   #11
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I had to fight with my son's health teacher and provide him with articles from the WHO to stop telling the kids that comdoms won't prevent STD's or AIDS even if used 100% properly. I will admit he did inform them he was wrong when give the info. His curriculum had been purchased from a private abstinence group for public schools.

Sex Ed was much better in the 70s early 80s. United Way used to help fund PP then also.
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Old 06-12-2007, 04:51 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonoIsMyMuse
Teens today are facing the same pressures we did 10 or 15 years ago, but it seems like they're facing some of them sooner than we did.
I dunno, there were 12 year olds who were having sex where I went to school. But maybe rural Southern country kids start earlier...

I read a little about the STAY program on the Manchester Co. YMCA's page, and it pretty much confirmed what the article suggests--i.e., that STAY is a small, highly targeted program (only about a dozen kids from each middle school in the district, and they have to register for it through an in-school coordinator) specifically geared towards the most 'at-risk' teens. So it's not like this was a mandatory field trip for all Manchester middle schoolers. I think that that context matters, and I agree with BonoIsMyMuse that the idea of taking these kids for on-site visits to local youth social service providers, rather than having some guest speaker prattle at them while they space out at their desks during health class, is in principle a good one.

That said, while BVS is right that most PP clinics don't offer abortion services, that apparently is not the case in Manchester, NH. So I also agree with him that in this particular case that clinic should not have been included in the field trip--partly because the taking notice and outcry from certain quarters was pretty much inevitable given the intensity of controversy over that issue (likely at cost to STAY's reputation as a valuable comprehensive program for at-risk teens, unfortunately); partly because colliding with protesters hardly makes for a good setting for hearing about PP's preventive health services; and partly because it simply wasn't necessary for them to visit that particular site in order to learn about local availability of such preventive services.
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Old 06-12-2007, 05:06 PM   #13
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Yes I can't imagine a general school field trip to Planned Parenthood ever happening-it was just a way to shorten the title It sounds like an excellent program for those kids and I believe the woman from PP when she says abortion was never discussed. I can't believe they would ever approach that subject with middle school students who are there for the purpose that they were there.

But if that particular one performs abortions you would think people would be aware of the possibility of protesters there.I wonder if they had to get parental permission for that field trip, I would imagine so.

Reading the comments on the newspaper web site is interesting. I believe the Union Leader is known to be a very conservative paper.

You can read some here

http://www.theunionleader.com/articl...f-b8bd2f630a7c
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Old 06-13-2007, 10:21 AM   #14
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Seems to me there's a serious lack of communication there-and that can lend itself to suspicions about deception/coverups, etc.

Union Leader June 12th

MANCHESTER – The president of the Greater Manchester YMCA yesterday said he would have vetoed a field trip to Planned Parenthood by middle school students in the STAY program had he known about it.

The students were confronted at the Pennacook Street clinic Wednesday by vocal pro-life protesters, who tried to give the youngsters literature. Hal Jordansaid the visit to Planned Parenthood, where there are periodic demonstrations:“Exposed the kids unnecessarily to the potential for conflict.”

Jordan said the Planned Parenthood stop was part of a tour of social serviceagencies that included the City Library, Child and Family Services, Boys &Girls Club, YWCA, Office of Youth Services and the Teen Health Clinic. At each location, he said, an agency representative provided a 3-to-5-minute explanation of the agency’s services.

Jordan said the staff did not clear the visit through the YMCA or school administrators. As for the information Planned Parenthood provided, Jordan said, “There’s better ways to get information.”

Jordan said the seventh and eighth graders, mostly aged 12 to 14, are in a sensitive age group. In the future, he said, the STAY program will rely on the school department’s health education curriculum.“That’s a good source,” he said.

The Planned Parenthood representative last week said she spoke to the seventh and eighth graders about the array of services the agency provides, nearly allof them preventive. She said abortion was not mentioned, and yesterday Jordan confirmed that.

Jordan said there won’t be any surprises about field trips in the future. He said there have been discussions with the school administration and said,“We’re going to prepare a manual.” The manual will include specifics on the where, when and why of field trips and adventure activities and will be available before school resumes in the fall.

He said the YMCA will also be working harder to communicate with the school department, state organizations and parents about the 20-year-old program’s activities.
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