Parental-consent debate leaves families out |

Parental-consent debate leaves families out

One of the relatively few bright spots of the recent frenzy over Terri Schiavo’s death was the complexity of the debate raised by her plight.

While few would disagree that the Florida case was overblown, there was a reason it resonated with those as distant as Nevada County residents. How does an ever-advancing society define the blurry line between life or death? Should the power of life decisions go to those with marital or blood relationships?

Unfortunately, such a rich debate was often lost in a mind-numbing political schism. You were either right or wrong, liberal or conservative, with us or against us.

Now Nevada County faces its own complex conversation, which threatens with each passing day to become a victim of political oversimplification.

The question: Should the area’s high school district continue allowing students to leave campus for confidential medical appointments without parental notification?

It’s a question that forces us to confront some weighty issues – student privacy, parental rights, venereal disease, familial trust, the threat of child abuse and teen pregnancy, just to name a few.

But from the beginning, there have been political overtones that hovered on the verge of hijacking what could be a healthy local debate.

Wanting to change the policy of student privacy is the Capitol Resource Institute, a conservative nonprofit that likes to say things like:

“Every day in Sacramento, liberal groups and lawmakers introduce new bills, committees and task forces with one basic goal – to redefine our social structure, redefine the definition of ‘family,’ indoctrinate our kids and weaken parental rights and religious freedom.” (From their Web site,

Quickly mounting a defense of the parental-consent policy was a new group called Protect All Children of Nevada County, which likes to make statements like:

“‘Parent’s rights’ advocates are primarily people whose personal religious/moral code states that anything that comes between parents and their ability to know about and control their child’s every action ‘undermines the family.'” (From

On both sides, it’s “us against them,” all over again.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

This is a debate worth having, and it’s one where students, parents and everyone else should feel free to weigh in without aligning themselves with a political slant.

It’s OK to support student privacy without feeling you’re launching an assault on the American family. It’s OK to argue for parental notification without signing up for the Ann Coulter fan club.

When (or if) this debate comes to fruition before the Nevada Joint Union High School board, don’t be ashamed to make your feelings known. We’ve heard from the vocal extremes. Now, it’s time to hear from everyone between.

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