Trustees of the San Diego city schools face one of their toughest decisions of the year Tuesday when they decide whether to proceed with a study on establishing a school-based health clinic.
A 30-member task force has endorsed the concept of the school clinic and has asked to continue working on what services such a facility would offer. The clinic proposal, while unavoidably controversial, touches areas of vital importance to students, and the study of it should go on.
Overshadowing all the other legitimate reasons for establishing a pilot clinic--such as the finding that more than half the high school students who are referred for medical treatment don't receive it--is the issue of providing birth control counseling and contraceptives. To some, this is viewed as a challenge to the family's prerogative and responsibility to set religious and ethical standards for their children. While these viewpoints, expressed by the Catholic Church and by many parents, must be respected, they are wrong.
The existence of a safe place where young people can go for all kinds of information and health needs is a far cry from a siren luring kids into otherwise-unimagined sexual conduct. The family will always be the place where life's behavioral benchmarks and boundaries are learned. Teen-agers who have been taught to refrain from sexual activity are not suddenly going to engage in it just because condoms are available at a clinic--as well as in drugstores, various men's rooms and from friends.