Gloucester High Says Yes to Contraceptives

School board approved contraceptives at the high school with parents' consent.

ByABC News
October 9, 2008, 11:15 AM

Oct. 9, 2008 — -- It took a lot of passionate debating, some of it in the national spotlight, but Gloucester High School will start distributing condoms to students who get their parents' permission.

It's a move some students and health officials have said was a long time coming, especially after more than a dozen teenage girls there became pregnant during the last school year in what the Massachusetts school's former principal said was an organized pact between the students to get pregnant and have babies.

"This is what we wanted,'' said Dr. Brian Orr, the former director of the Gloucester High School medical clinic. "This is what we were working towards: to have the School Committee make a decision on what was right for Gloucester. They used the right process to do it. They heard from the community. They heard from the medical professionals."

Orr, who quit his post in disgust along with school nurse Kim Daly after the hospital that oversaw the health center refused to allow them to distribute contraceptives, was grateful that teens will now have access to condoms.

"Teenagers will now have access to contraceptives. Parents can opt out if they want to,'' Orr told today. "It's a win-win for everyone."

He now runs a pediatric practice in Gloucester.

Orr and Daly became concerned earlier this year after several young girls came to the clinic repeatedly for pregnancy tests. In fact, there were roughly 150 pregnancy tests administered between October 2007 and May 2008, officials said -- a high number for a school of roughly 1,200 students.

Gloucester School Committee chairman Greg Verga said the decision to provide condoms was a unanimous one. As part of the new policy, parents can sign a form that would require the school to contact them if their child sought out the care of a doctor, and with parental consent the doctor can also prescribe birth control pills to the students.

"We're satisfied this was the right decision,'' Verga said.

The school committee held a series of hearings with the community last week to garner input.