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Teen medical ban could threaten gay youth, say advocates

Bill would restrict teen access to STD screenings, contraception, other medical and mental health services
Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Updated: 4:00 p.m. EDT.

RALEIGH, N.C. — A bill restricting teenagers’ access to medical and mental health care initially scheduled to be voted on in the North Carolina House of Representatives on Wednesday was taken off the calendar and sent back to the Judiciary Committee.

The bill would prohibit youth under the age of 18 from receiving prevention, diagnosis and treatment for pregnancy and abortion, sexually-transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, mental health and substance abuse without the express written and notarized consent of their parent or guardian. The legislation would also restrict minors’ access to contraception.

The bill (H693) could be the most restrictive in the nation and advocates serving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people say they are concerned about the bill’s possible affect on their services.

“My biggest fear is for youth who have estranged relationships with their parents,” said James Miller, executive director of the LGBT Center of Raleigh. “I’m concerned with the youth who come to us and who say, ‘I cannot talk to my parents, I cannot talk to a trusted adult, I don’t have a trusted adult in my life.’ This bill really does put a hinderance on youth who need to access mental health or sexual health services.”

Rodney Tucker, executive director of the Charlotte-based Time Out Youth, said his organization’s services will definitely be affected. One of his staff currently has a provisional license for professional counseling and will be required to follow the proposed legislation’s restrictions once the organization is able to offer therapeutic services this fall. At that time, he said, youth under the age of 18 will need parental consent for Time Out Youth’s counseling.

“We have big concerns on delaying of treatment, increase risk of spreading disease, how this could impact depression/suicide,” Tucker said in a statement via email. “Our youth have very few safe places, this law would change the patient client relationship with their medical provider.”

Proponents of the bill include two organizations known for their anti-LGBT advocacy.

Tami Fitzgerald of the N.C. Values Coalition, the leading proponent of last year’s anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment on marriage, called the teen medical ban “a commonsense bill that puts control back in the hands of the parents, where it belongs,”  according to WRAL Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie.

“There is something insanely wrong about physicians’ associations coming into this building and asserting that their judgment should be substituted for the judgment of a child’s parents,” Fitzgerald told a House committee on Tuesday.

Jere Royall with the North Carolina Family Policy Council also supported the bill during its committee hearing: “Sexually transmitted diseases, abuse of controlled substances or alcohol, mental illness or pregnancy are critical, sensitive and necessary areas for parents to be aware of and involved in.”

Miller’s LGBT Center of Raleigh provides weekly safe space and social activities for LGBT youth, some under the age of 18. His group’s weekly “Youth Coffee House” doesn’t offer clinical or medical services, but the bill, Miller said, could have a chilling effect on his youths’ ability to access referrals.

“Ultimately, it hurts the child,” Miller said of the bill. “I’m concerned about youth not utilizing competent health care and not having to rely on WebMD searches or questioning whether they have HIV.”

Rates of new HIV infections among young gay and bisexual men have been growing, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From 2008 to 2010, the rate of new infections among young men who have sex with men aged 13-24 increased by 22 percent.

“We know that anyone who knows their status is multiple times less risky in their sexual health,” Miller said. “[The bill] is going to discourage youth from finding out their status. It’s a public health nightmare.”

The North Carolina AIDS Action Network is encouraging citizens to contact their legislators on the bill. The North Carolina chapter of the National Association of Social Workers is also distributing an action alert today.

© QNotes.
An LGBTQ Nation media partner.

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14 more reader comments:

  1. Great.. x.x stupid people.

    Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 9:53am
  2. Not to mention any kids being sexually abused by their parents…

    Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 9:53am
  3. jeez……….

    Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 9:58am
  4. Let’s alienate a group of the population who will eventually end up running society 20 years later.

    Yeah, not too bright there.

    F*cking dumbasses.

    Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 10:00am
  5. I bet that is backed by republicans

    Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 10:01am
  6. Seems like they just want young gay men to get infected and infect each other. That’s what they deserve for being sinful. There is always a religious majority in groups pushing this kind of legislation. They act in line with the idea that every family is like their’s and if they aren’t, then they should be. It doesn’t matter if it is possible or not.

    Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 10:16am
  7. So they’d risk preventable pregnancy and std infections if parents don’t allow treatments?…damn cuz it’s gonna be like the 50′s when girls have to go to illegal abortion practices&risk bleeding to death or blood infections because they may be forced to carry a child.

    Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 10:23am
  8. Wait this could also cause suicides if a child’s parents refuse to let them get help or care…fübar

    Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 10:25am
  9. The GOP thinks they can control teenagers to end ‘immorality’ because they cannot see we are in the 21st century.

    Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 10:37am
  10. They say there is something wrong when a physicians judgement is substituted for a parents? Dont child services already do that? On another note, sometimes parents can be fucking retarded. Parents can have mental illnesses, can be abusive, or whatever. Do you think putting someone or a CHILD in the situation where theyre forced to tell their parents about an STD or being pregnant which COULD MAKE THINGS WORSE! Where they actually are being responsible in doing it themselves.

    Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 10:48am
  11. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we open minded people, all packed up and left this country.

    Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 11:51am
  12. this will lead to much more suicide among youth….. But those Republicans parents who suffer the lost of a child that way should take responsibility for their children’s death…. nobody else.

    Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 12:05pm
  13. This wouldn’t just hurt gay youth. It’ll hurt youth in general. This is disgusting and how they even have the disgusting mind to put a bill like this up is beyond me. Except for some dumb ass conservatives only concerned for themselves.

    Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 1:10pm
  14. This country will fall into the gutters.

    Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 1:26pm