Oct 13, 2010 7:17 PM by Beth Saboe (Missoula)
Planned Parenthood says it is disappointed with Frenchtown School District's decision to not continue to allow a presentation given to 9th graders by the agency.
Trustees voted 5-2 Tuesday night to end the partnership with Planned Parenthood. Since 2002, the school district has allowed the organization to give a 90 minute lesson to freshmen on birth control each semester.
"The presentation includes factual, up-to-date information about birth control options that is medically accurate and age appropriate," said Beth Cogswell, Director of Communications for Planned Parenthood of Montana.
The public hearing came about after some parents and local residents questioned district's relationship with PPMT and asked the board to revisit the policy. It was a packed house at Tuesday's public meeting and after hearing from dozens of people, the trustees decided PPMT is not an acceptable organization to be teaching teens about sex.
Supporters say the organization is reputable, professional and the growing statistics on teenage pregnancy show that students need the information.
"You don't get a good education when you start restricting education, when you start limiting the amount of information provided to each student. I've worked with Planned Parenthood and I find them very much the experts in sexual education," said Debbie Lester, a parent of three kids.
According to PPMT, 2 in 20 young women in Montana will become pregnant before age 20 and 46% of high school students reported ever having sexual intercourse. Also, sexually transmitted infections including chlamydia and gonorrhea are on the rise among teens.
Meanwhile, many opponents at Tuesday night's meeting took issue with Planned Parenthood being an abortion provider and others claimed it is trying to advance a liberal agenda.
"It makes me sick. Any one of our girls that are under 18 can go in there without a single one of us knowing and have an abortion. I guarantee if they're teaching in our classrooms and one of our girls says 'I'm pregnant and I'm scared to tell my Mom,' they will say you don't have to," said Michelle Bashor, a parent of five kids.
Since Planned Parenthood will no longer be giving the presentation to freshman, the lesson on birth control will instead be taught by the school's current health teacher.