Yesterday afternoon we had a local representative from the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) come in and talk with us about Youth Rights, with a focus on Adolescent Sexual Health. There is a lot of misinformation about the rights of teens to sexual health care.
If you are 17 years or under, you have the right to get sexual health services on your own in New York. You can get confidential services that include: Birth Control (condoms & birth control); Emergency Contraception; Pregnancy Tests & Prenatal Care; Sexually Transmitted Infection Tests & Care; Abortion Services; Sexual Assault Care. You do not need permission from your parents, boyfriend, girlfriend, or anyone else for these services.
The conversation was also very informative and created a very interesting conversation about rights young people have at schools. In Rochester, N.Y., the school district requires that all schools hang signs in the door that says in so many words that if you walk into the school you consent to walking through metal detectors and to having your personal things searched. The question was is that legal? Since you have to go to school and you don't sign paperwork that says you consent can they search you? Likewise do you have the right to refuse the search if prompted.
The fact that it may be a violation of rights and possibly unethical fueled the conversation empowering them to take more control over the situation and refusing to consent to being searched and having items taken. Very informing and powerful conversation.
You can check on the NYACLU website at http://www.nyclu.org/issues/reproductive-rights.