A mom in Texas says her daughter’s school crossed a line when they forced the girl to reveal her pregnancy to staff, then sent her for medical testing and counseling.
Considering it’s a Christian school, it’s not surprising the First Choice Pregnancy Center, where they sent the teen, just so happens to be one of those abstinence-only, pro-life organizations. But then the Trinity Christian School allegedly expelled the girl in May of 2008, two weeks shy of the end of school.
The girls mom is suing the school, church and specific staffers at the school. But it sounds like her biggest problems are with the center, which the lawsuit says, “The pregnancy center interviewed, counseled and tested Jane Doe
without the consent or knowledge of her mother and disseminated her
private medical information to [school Bible teacher Shannan] Morgan and [school counselor Brad] Watson without
consent or authorization.”
So there was a violation of HIPAA here on behalf of the center. Her health info should not have been given to school staff based on federal guidelines regarding the privacy of health information. Period.
It’s inappropriate too that the school ordered any form of medical testing, and that the girl was forced to reveal her pregnancy. Again, that’s private health information. Her pregnancy was not swine flu. It was not going to affect public health. It’s where the school clearly crossed a line. As they did by kicking out a student for her pregnancy.
But is the counseling part out of line? Even counseling at a place where they make it their mission “to give women and teens in crisis pregnancies and opportunity to examine their lives, think through their options, and gain vital information regarding positive alternatives to pregnancy termination”?
Remember, this isn’t a public school. As a religious private school, the separation of church and state is null and void. So while parents with kids in public school could (should) throw up their arms for having their kid brought to a faith-based counseling service, that doesn’t necessarily apply here. And counseling of some form is often put into place by school districts, some of which have a psychologist on staff for kids to consult. And that can be at the suggestion of a teacher or simply a student’s own request. If a student or teacher dies, a trauma team full of counselors is called upon, and parents are not asked if that’s OK.
I’d imagine counseling for a pregnant teen is appropriate. Even in a public school setting – although there I’d again call for something non-faith based, with no particular focus on whether or not she’ll keep the baby.
What do you think, parents?
Image: supernannyrules.com (not the girl described)