Legislative measure seeks to require parental ‘written consent’ for children services, including birth control

Author: CBSMiami/News Service Florida
Published: Updated:

A Florida Senate panel on Wednesday backed a proposal that would require parents to give written consent before minors can get mental-health services or be prescribed birth control at school, a move that Democrats argued will prevent students from seeking treatment.

The creation of the “Parents Bill of Rights” would allow parents to access and review all of their children’s school records. That is designed to ensure parents have the fundamental right to “direct the upbringing, education and care of their children.”

This proposal (SB 1726) would bring some changes to the way students can seek mental-health and reproductive-health services, including counseling and birth control prescriptions.

Sen. Joe Gruters, the sponsor of the bill, said the proposal comes after scenarios in which students have told guidance counselors that they were contemplating suicide, but parents were never told.

“This is to make sure we empower parents and that they are informed of issues going on with their child at school on a daily basis,” Gruters, R-Sarasota, said.

But as the Senate Education Committee approved the bill Wednesday, some Democrats raised concerns about the health-care provision in the bill, arguing that minors may stop independently seeking treatment if they know their parents will find out about it.

Sen. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, said she recognizes parents play an important role in their children’s education but said some aspects of the bill are “very unnecessary.”

“I have a lot of concerns about the bill. I think it could have a very detrimental effect on their medical care,” Berman said. “This bill could affect the ability for a minor to obtain some reproductive health care.”

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