Health Resource Center Controversy Continues

| March 5, 2019

OIL CITY, Pa. (EYT) – The debate over a health resource center is continuing as the Oil City School District’s middle and high schools decided not to move forward.

Oil City Superintendent Lynda Weller, after speaking individually to each of the school board members in a kind of “informal poll” last week, stated that the majority of the members were not in favor of hearing a presentation on the proposed health resource center.

According to Weller, the idea of bringing such a resource center to Oil City was originally proposed to Oil City High School Principal Scott Stahl by a representative of Youth Alternatives of Venango County.

Stahl told exploreVenango.com, “There was some discussion about having them provide counseling services to our students, which would not be out of the ordinary for our district.”

“When you hit an issue such as this, you have to take a pause. It’s not a decision any one person should make. There should be some discussion, and that’s what Dr. Weller did by presenting the issue to the school board members.”

“We have a number of partnerships with agencies outside our school to provide services, and we’re fortunate to have so many agencies in our area that want to provide services to our students, especially to students in need.”

According to Stahl, the initial proposal was looking at providing counseling services for students not only for issues related to sexual education but for counseling students on everything from dealing with the stress of academics to the pressure of planning their future.

“There was never any discussion about abortion or abortion counseling,” Stahl said.

“We’ve had interactions with Youth Alternatives here throughout my entire career at Oil City, and they’ve always provided wonderful programs and professional people to help students. I wouldn’t have thought this would be any different, but it touched on a sensitive topic.”

Stahl noted that different families have varied beliefs about who should be responsible for educating young people about topics related to sexual health and activity.

Superintendent Weller distributed information from AccessMatters on the centers to board members and informed them that Youth Alternatives had requested that they consider hearing a presentation on the health resource centers.

AccessMatters, a Philadelphia-based non-profit organization, has established health resource centers in other schools throughout the state to provide students with a range of services and information related to issues of sexual and reproductive health.

Locally, the centers have also been proposed at Franklin and Valley Grove school districts.

The Franklin School Board approved the establishment of a health resource center in December, while Valley Grove decided not to move forward after hearing a presentation from AccessMatters in January.

The proposals have also stirred some controversy, due to AccessMatters being a Planned Parenthood partner.

The proposals have also stirred some controversy, due to AccessMatters being a Planned Parenthood partner.

An “Action Alert” was issued by the Franklin-based American Family Association of Pennsylvania (AFA of PA) that the AccessMatters agency is “targeting” four Venango County schools districts for the establishment of health resource centers.

Issued by Diane Gramley, of Venango County, President of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, the Action Alert includes information about the Access Matters agency and voices concerns about the proposals for health centers in the Oil City, Franklin, Valley Grove, and Cranberry school districts.

Information in the alert highlights the fact that AccessMatters is a Planned Parenthood partner.

“We do not believe it is in the best interest of the children of this county to give Access/Matters-trained ‘counselors’ access to them,” the alert states. “Basically, schools would be allowing Planned Parenthood counselors access to your children.”

Below are specific points the AFA of PA Action Alert states about AccessMatters:

– Their goal is to increase access to sexual and reproductive health.

– Family planning, HIV and STD prevention and testing, breast and cervical cancer screening and prevention, teen pregnancy prevention, and condom distribution are just a few of the important programs we support.

– AccessMatters is committed to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and stands with Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers are valued community partners in the Access/Matters Network…

– Their (AccessMatters) January 22, 2019, Facebook post: “People’s sexual and reproductive health care are critical to their social and economic empowerment. On the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, we remind ourselves that 46 years later, we are still working to protect access to all reproductive health options.”

– Their (AccessMatters) January 15, 2019, Facebook post after a Philly judge placed a nationwide injunction against the Trump Administration’s proposed rule that would have exempted Christian-owned businesses from being required to provide contraception coverage under Obamacare: “We are pleased with U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone’s decision to grant block these dangerous rules from taking effect. We also thank Attorney General Josh Shapiro for being a true champion in this fight to protect access to contraceptive coverage!”

– Access/Matters was formerly known as Family Planning Council.

For more information on the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, follow this link: afaofpa.org.


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