(The Washington Stand) As part of its month-long focus on adolescent health, the Biden administration is promoting a document that tells Planned Parenthood and other taxpayer-funded family planning offices how to talk to minors about sex without their parents overhearing, and how to secretly deliver birth control to adolescents without parental knowledge or consent.
Federally-funded guidelines instruct adults to pause before discussing sex with minors and to ask, “Are you alone in the room?” These instructions specify tactics to follow “if you’re really having a hard time getting a parent” to leave the room during the sex talk. They suggest children as young as 13 discuss sex with groups like Planned Parenthood in a parked car or communicate in writing, so their parents cannot hear the adults’ side of the conversation. And they encourage offices to have vans roam neighborhoods giving minors federally funded contraceptives; to mail birth control to adolescents in “plain, unmarked packaging;” and/or to have teenagers receive contraceptives at public meet-up places.
A federal grant recipient admitted the cloak-and-dagger sex discussion is necessary, because “parents might not agree with some of the things that we’re talking about.”
The emphasis on shutting out adults comes as the Biden administration and 24 states are fighting against a lawsuit to recognize parents’ right to know if the government is enabling underage sexual activity by giving teens birth control.
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Biden admin: ‘It takes a village’ to teach teens about sex
The Biden administration revealed that it aimed to “expand sexual and reproductive health information and services” for teens during National Adolescent Health Month (NAHM), which runs during the month of May. The announcement made it clear government-funded strangers would take a leading role in forming teens’ views of sexuality.
“The adage ‘It takes a village’ has been proven time and again,” said Jessica Marcella, deputy assistant secretary for Population Affairs and director of the Office of Adolescent Health in the official press release. “[T]his year,” the Biden administration is “amplifying the important role of youth-serving professionals and other caring adults in their interactions with young people.”
The Biden administration’s official Resources for National Adolescent Health Month™ 2023 links to a document titled “Providing Family Planning Services to Adolescents During Uncertain Times,” produced by the Reproductive Health National Training Center (RHNTC), a roup that trains Title X providers at taxpayers’ expense. Its instructions detail how Title X recipients, who distribute federally funded contraception to children in the name of “family planning,” can and should bypass parents during sex-related telehealth meetings.
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‘Why are you talking to my young person in the bathroom with the door locked?’
The plan to speak about sex one-on-one with impressionable youth begins during scheduling. “Confirm with youth clients that you have their phone number/contact information rather than their parents’ contact information,” the document tells federal grant recipients. “At the beginning of the visit, do a privacy screen. Ask ‘Are you alone in the room?’ or ‘Can other people hear what you are saying?’”
“1. Are they alone in the room? Always ask first! If a parent is present, ask to provide alone time during the appointment.
“2. Can people hear them outside the room? Can they relocate? Use headphones? Use yes/no questions or chat feature?” (Emphases in original.)
The written document tells teens who want to “protect their privacy” from their parents “during a virtual visit” to:
- “Take the call in the bathroom, outside, or in a parked car.”
- “Use headphones.”
- “Schedule the call at a time when there are fewer people at home.”
“[P]arents might not agree with some of the things that we’re talking about and some of the services that our patients are looking for,” Safiya Yearwood, a nurse at Baltimore’s Star Track Clinic, told the webinar. Title X grantees must “mak[e] sure that patients are, number one, safe to even have these conversations, and determine[e] where they can do it.”
The easiest method is to assure teens know how to call without their parent or guardian’s input. “[A]re we letting all of our adolescent patients know what their protections are?” asked webinar host Kaleigh Cornelison, MSW, who was then lead program specialist at the University of Michigan’s Adolescent Health Initiative, and who now works at ETR, which specialized in “health equity” advancement. “[A]re we informing everyone of what their rights are?”
“Are we ensuring that everyone knows what their rights are and what they have access to without a parent or caregiver’s consent?”
If parents are present, Title X grantees should make every effort to get them to leave the room. “Standardize time alone for all adolescent clients with the provider,” Cornelison instructed Title X offices. Have a “system in place so it’s standard practice; it’s not out of the ordinary. It comes to be expected every time.”
“We had to create scripts” for telehealth visits, explained Chinwe Efuribe, MD, MPH, who founded the Centered Youth Clinic and Consulting clinic and medical director of Every Body Texas, on the webinar. Employees told parents their absence “is our practice” and, “we usually have one-on-one time with our young people, and we would like to continue that.”
It is important to normalize the practice to evade parents’ suspicion, she said. “If the parent was there in the visit, also let them know that this is something that we’ve always been doing that we want to continue doing, so they don’t think that, you know, ‘Why are you talking to my young person in the bathroom with the door locked?’” said Efuribe.
If parents refuse to leave, Cornelison told Title X recipient offices, they should tell teens they “can maybe get a little creative about moving rooms, putting on headphones, maybe some questions are asked in a chat instead of verbally just to sort of deal with that privacy issue if you’re really having a hard time getting a parent or caregiver outside of the space.”
To maintain silence after the visit, Cornelison told providers to assure all emails are sent to the teens’ private email account, so no “parent is going to get a red flag.”
Two sexually active minors testified the Biden administration-promoted guidelines helped them hide their sexual activity from others, including parents.
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“It had been an ongoing battle for me” to keep her parents uninformed of her sexual activity, said Kacie, an underage teenager. “I did not think I needed to hear or experience the repercussions from my family.” Her efforts included talking to her Title X office “on the phone behind the shed” and lying to her parents to get the use of the family car. “I’d be like, ‘Hey, I’m going here, and I’m doing this.’ It’s not like, ‘I’m going to my doctor to get help with Title X services,’” she said. Bianca, a teen who uses they/them pronouns, added that she particularly appreciated online events, where “you can tell someone, ‘Hey, I’m going to this event!’ and you don’t have to say, ‘I’m going to the clinic.’”
Contraceptive vans and unmarked boxes of condoms
After the consultation, adult Title X grantees must deliver contraceptives to minors without the parents’ knowledge. “With more virtual visits happening, clinics have come up with creative ways to deliver the prescriptions and supplies that they previously gave youth on-site at the clinic,” says the document, which encourages offices to begin:
- “Mail delivery of supplies in plain, unmarked packaging”
- “Curbside pickup of supplies at the clinic or other community locations frequented by youth”
- “Use of a mobile van to bring supplies to people in their neighborhoods”
Yearwood told the webinar she mailed teens “That Box,” a box full of condoms, “little toys,” and other sex items. “There’s no sort of markings on there that would say, ‘There’s HIV [testing kit] and condoms in here,’” she said.
“When I go to the clinic, Safiya and them [sic] always give me like a ‘goodie bag.’ And it’s so cute. It’s like a bag but it has condoms and all these things that I need,” said Bianca — with her parents none the wiser.
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Eroding parents’ rights did not begin with gender
“These guidelines encourage health care providers to keep the parents of teens in the dark about their potentially life-altering decisions surrounding sexual activity,” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, the founder and president of the Ruth Institute and author of “The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies are Destroying Lives and How the Church was Right All Along,” told The Washington Stand.
“It has long been federal policy that minors past the age of puberty have a right to contraception without their parents' knowledge or consent,” Morse told TWS. “This latest effort by the federal government to actively encourage health care providers to help teens deceive their parents is part of a longstanding pattern of the Sexual State to spread the ideology of the Sexual Revolution — whether people know it or not, whether people want it or not.”
Title X became law when President Richard Nixon signed the Family Planning Services and Public Research Act of 1970 (now Public Law 91-572). In 1978, Congress amended the law specifically to include adolescents. A series of courts ruled that the law forbids parental consent or notification laws. In 2021, the Biden administration codified these rulings in regulation to federal law 42 C.F.R. § 59.10(b), which states that “Title X projects may not require consent of parents or guardians for the provision of services to minors, nor can any Title X project staff notify a parent or guardian before or after a minor has requested and/or received Title X family planning services.”
Family advocates have tried to remove the government-imposed barrier between parents and unemancipated minors for more than a quarter of a century. In 1997, then-Rep. Ernest Istook attempted to require parental consent before federally funded facilities could give birth control to minors. But the House Appropriations Committee defeated the Istook amendment, substituting a watered-down alternative that asked Title X participants to encourage family involvement “to the extent practical.”
More recently, parents earned a victory in a federal courtroom — a breakthrough the Biden administration is trying to reverse.
Biden takes parents to court
A concerned parent sued HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, Deanda v. Becerra, last December, arguing that Title X confidentiality guidelines violate parents’ rights — and won.
The secretive “administration of the Title X program violates the constitutional right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children,” ruled U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, who also recently found the FDA had wrongly approved the abortion pill (mifepristone). “[P]arental rights … do not completely disappear with respect to a minor child’s sexual activity.”
The Biden administration appealed the decision in February. The attorneys general of 24 states and the District of Columbia signed an amicus brief siding with Biden and against parents/guardians.
They are supported by Planned Parenthood and other federally funded contraceptive providers who oppose parental “involvement” — starkly framing the legal battle as a struggle between their business and parents’ rights.
“Forced parental notification and involvement undercuts the integrity of the Title X program and creates barriers to care and decision-making,” said Clare Coleman, president and CEO of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA). Establishing parental oversight of their minor children’s sex life would “eviscerate longstanding Title X program protections that ensure young people can access the care they need from providers they trust.”
The Deanda lawsuit is “shameful,” said Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson. “Young people deserve access to the health care they need to make their own decisions about their bodies, lives, and futures.”
Planned Parenthood said it is “grateful” to the president and “fortunate that the U.S. Justice Department and the Biden administration [is] dedicated to fighting back,” said Johnson, adding that Planned Parenthood will “look forward to our ongoing work with them.”
Sexually active teens have worse mental health: Biden administration
The Biden administration’s anti-parental rights legal efforts seem at odds with its own advice on how to improve poor teen mental health. The CDC website states multiple times, “Parent engagement also makes it more likely that children and adolescents will avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as sexual risk behaviors and tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use.” Sexually active teens are more likely to suffer from depression, addiction, and suicidal ideation than their abstinent heterosexual peers, according to a report the CDC released in February. Teens who have sex with members of the opposite sex are twice as likely to self-report attempting suicide, more than twice as likely to use marijuana, and 45% more likely to report overall poor mental health.
The rates are higher for teens who have sex with members of the same sex.
Independent studies have found parental involvement is particularly important for vulnerable populations the Biden administration uplifts as the center of its policies. Black female teens living in low-income urban areas and “at increased risk for sexually transmitted diseases” found high levels of “perceived parental supervision” resulted in lower rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia, concluded one such study. “[P]arental supervision can result in lower sexually transmitted disease rates in urban high-prevalence populations.”
“Given the mental health crisis among American teens, deliberately putting a communication barrier between children and their parents is a really bad idea,” Morse told TWS.
Any sexual activity increases the possibility of physical health impacts, as well. While abstinence prevents all pregnancies and disease, the oral contraceptives distributed by Title X fail to prevent pregnancy at least 7% of the time, and condoms have a “typical use failure rate [of] 13%,” according to the CDC. The NAHM’s resources page admits that “condom use with every sexual act can greatly reduce — though not eliminate — the risk of” sexually transmitted infections/diseases (STIs/STDs). People between the ages of 15 and 24 accounted for half of the 26 million new STDs/STIs in the U.S., according to the CDC.
Many of the hormonal contraceptives and long-acting reversible contraceptives Title X offers teens also constitute potential abortifacients. And many are now distributed by Planned Parenthood, which may now refer visitors for abortions.
‘It takes a family,’ not a village
Perhaps knowing how incendiary its materials are, the RHNTC guide carries a disclaimer that, although “[t]his publication was supported by the Office of Population Affairs (Grant FPTPA006030),” the “views expressed do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services.” It does, however, reflect a training document intended to teach Title X providers how to use the taxpayer dollars furnished by the HHS.
Pro-family advocates say these prescriptions align with the Biden administration’s attempt to have minors guided on sexual issues by unrelated adults at the government’s direction, instead of loving parents.
Marcella’s reference that “it takes a village to raise a child” is “simply an attempt to replace parents. It takes a family to raise a child — not a village. It takes a loving mother and father who work together to teach their child to strive for the good, true, and beautiful,” Mary Szoch, director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council, told The Washington Stand.
“Since day one, the Biden administration has worked to replace mothers and fathers with a village — and not just any village, but one that is only made up of people intent on leading teenagers down the path of self-destruction and death.”