DCist | Fairfax Co. Student Suspended For Taking Birth Control At SchoolZT is an abysmal excuse for spineless school administrators to pass the buck and refrain from having to display any actual judgement or conviction of their own. This kind of bureaucratic bullshit doesn't mean they're "tough on drugs" it just means they're incapable of exercising the slightest degree of discernment or perspective.
A Fairfax County girl was given a two-week suspension and a recommendation for expulsion because she was "caught" taking her birth control pill during lunch last month. Of course, the school's side of the matter is that there is a zero-tolerance policy in the school for any kind of pill.
From the Washington Post story on the matter:
For two decades, many schools have set zero-tolerance policies on drugs. That means no over-the-counter drugs, no prescription drugs, no pretend drugs in student lockers or pockets. When many teens have ready access to medicine cabinets filled with prescription medications such as Xanax and Vicodin, any capsule or tablet is suspect.The problem is that that case, Redding v. Safford Unified School District, isn't really about medication in schools at all. It's about whether students should have at least enough privacy to keep their underwear on in the absence of any evidence against them, and more so about whether the preposterously overzealous assistant principal who ordered the search should have known he was over the line, to which the only possible answer is "only if we expect principals to possess basic human decency." Sadly, I'm not sure if I can answer that question anymore.
Still, some parents and civil rights advocates say enforcement has been overzealous. Stringent rules have ensnared not only drug dealers and abusers, but a host of sniffling and headachy students seeking quick medical relief. The Supreme Court will consider this month the case of a 13-year-old Arizona student who was strip-searched in 2003 by an administrator who suspected that she was carrying ibuprofen pills.
Fairfax School Board members have debated over time whether to allow students to carry Tylenol or other over-the-counter medicines without registering them with the school nurse. County policy permits cough drops to be carried on campus, for instance, but not shared. Arlington County policies permit high school students to carry over-the-counter pain relievers. A 2006 state law in Maryland overturned some local rules requiring a doctor's note for children to use sunscreen at school.OMG!!! Cough drops! Sunscreen! Drugs! Terrorists! We have to save the chilllldruuunnnnnnnnn!!!!!
Back to the DCist post:
The teen that was suspended -- an honor student and a letterman, no less -- studied the handbook on drugs and found that not only would her punishment been less if she had been caught with heroin, but that her two-week suspension was the same punishment if she had brought a gun to school. It's understandable that the school wants to curb prescription drug abuse by students, but their blanket reaction to the issue sets a very dangerous precedent -- not to mention the message it sends to other students.The message it sends is that the adults in charge of the world are childish and frightened and generally extremely poor at their jobs. It sends the message that the world is full of very dangerous things including Advil, and that even smart adults are utterly incapable of discerning the relative risks of anything that carries the slightest possibility of danger. It sends the message that the rules matter more than reality, that common sense is nothing compared to slavish devotion to procedure, and that if you want to get ahead you do what it says in the little booklet and don't question authority even when — perhaps especially when — you're part of the authority. It sends the message that not only should students not think, but the people in charge should not think either.
As always, let us welcome wisdom from the ancients:
"The superior man [or Gentleman, or Scholar] is correctly firm, and not merely firm"
— Analects, XV.36