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Last month, Fairfax’s Oakton High School suspended—-and has threatened to expel—-a teenage girl who was caught swallowing a prescription birth control pill at lunch. According to the Washington Post:
When a Fairfax County mother got an urgent call from school last month reporting that her teenage daughter was caught popping a pill at lunchtime, she did not panic. “It was probably her birth-control pill,” she thought. She was right.
Her heart dropped that afternoon in the assistant principal’s office at Oakton High School when she and her daughter heard the mandatory punishment: A two-week suspension and recommendation for expulsion.
This story has less to do with reproductive rights than it does the thorough fucked-up-edness of the high school’s zero-tolerance drug policy.
Because the student chose to took the pill herself instead of handing the pack over to the school nurse to distribute every lunch period, she’ll face penalties on par with “bringing a gun to school” and harsher than “if she had been caught high on LSD, heroin or another illegal drug.” This is in a place where “county policy permits cough drops to be carried on campus, for instance, but not shared.”
What’s most fucked about this situation*?
(a) The student had been prescribed the drug by a doctor (b) Nobody has ever gotten high off of birth control, ever (c) The Fairfax school system could better spend its resources like, teaching shit (d) The cough drop-sharing menace has declined in recent years (d) fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck
Let’s parse the levels of fuck in the following statement from a Fairfax schools administrator:
“Most people would not know the difference between birth control or some Ritalin or Tylenol or codeine,” said Clarence Jones, coordinator for the Fairfax school system’s safe and drug-free youth program. “If they are just pulling something out of their pockets and sticking it in their mouths, we don’t know what they are taking.”
Ah yes, the intuitive juxtaposition of “birth control” versus “some Ritalin or Tylenol or codeine.” One drug can only be used to prevent babies; the others are explicitly prescribed so that kids with ADD can learn, are sold over-the-counter for headaches, or are highly addictive pain medications that cause symptoms of withdrawl.
But if administrators could not, in fact, tell if a teen was popping a birth control pill, or a self-purchased cough drop, or crack or whatever, here’s a solution: Why don’t you just ask that teenage human that’s sitting right in front of you? If they have a prescription for the medication, or if the medication does not require a prescription, leave them alone and move on to more important issues, like prosecuting sexters or alerting the media to clandestine rainbow parties.
* Answer: D.