School-Based Healthcare Centers on Path to ‘Eliminating Parents’ Rights’

Susan Berry | October 20, 2023

(The Lion) — The Biden administration’s ramp-up of school-based health centers (SBHCs) is moving public education further toward government intrusion in the parent-child relationship. 

That’s according to Michelle Cretella M.D., a general pediatrician, child advocate and spokesperson on issues of sexuality for the Catholic Medical Association. 

“School-based health clinics are all about eliminating parent rights and they have been from their inception,” Cretella explained to The Lion in a telephone interview Monday. 

“They have been all about birth control, abortion,” she said.  

“’Hey, we’ve got a pregnant kid here, yeah, let’s refer her to Planned Parenthood – you know, the judicial bypass, etc.’,” Cretella described a typical situation whereby a school center that provides “reproductive care” might seek a judge’s order for a minor to have an abortion without parental knowledge or consent. 

“And then as soon as gender ideology took hold everywhere, schools are transitioning kids socially, setting them up for medical transition, without parental knowledge,” the pediatrician continued. “That’s everywhere.” 

School-based health centers were given a big boost in the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – with the support of national teachers’ unions, which have justified the centers’ existence with claims of necessity for low-income children and suggestions of improved academic performance. 

“By locating in school buildings, on campus and in other familiar locations, SBHCs improve access to necessary healthcare services, especially hard-to-reach and low-income students, who may otherwise forgo required care,” the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) writes in support of the centers. “SBHCs exist in all types of schools, with 81 percent located in traditional public schools.” 

“Poor student health poses a significant barrier to learning and may contribute to lower grades, as well as higher absences and dropout rates,” the union adds. 

In May, the Biden Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded nearly $25 million to expand SBHCs. The grants would serve the administration’s goal of achieving “equity” and provide a response to reports of a severe mental health crisis among American youth, especially in the wake of the teacher-union-supported government shutdowns of schools during the COVID pandemic. 

Following the announcement of the HHS grants, the Department of Education declared the administration “is continuing to take a whole-of-government approach to meet families where they are and ensure that children have access to the health care they need – especially mental health services.” 

The education department announced the proposal of a “new rule” and “new guidance to make it easier for schools to bill Medicaid.” 

“Students are six times more likely to access mental health when these services are offered in school, and that’s one important reason why making it easier for schools to provide health care is at the heart of the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to address the youth mental health crisis and raise the bar for learning conditions in our schools,” claimed Miguel Cardona, education secretary. 

The guidance, titled “Delivering Services in School-Based Settings: A Comprehensive Guide to Medicaid Services and Administrative Claiming,” promotes the idea that SBHCs are essential in “bridging equity gaps,” and touts a wide range of services: 

The school setting provides a unique opportunity to deliver health care services to children and adolescents, especially those enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). School-based services (SBS), including but not limited to preventive care, mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) services, physical and occupational therapy, and disease management have been shown to improve both health and academic outcomes. 

The phrase “but not limited to” echoes Cretella’s observation of birth control/abortion and “gender-affirming care” services provided in SBHCs.  

“We’re already seeing teachers say, ‘Hey, we’re the experts, right? We know how to raise your kids better than you do, right?’” she noted. “And, so, with these health centers – so, first of all, it’s not health care. They’re actively taking steps that will result in sterilizing your children, damaging health.” 

The justification that it makes sense for children to seek their health care at school because that’s where they are for most of their day is in keeping with the narrative of “your children belong to us” heard in the establishment media, observed Cretella, who serves as co-chair of the sexuality committee of the American College of Pediatricians and a spokesperson on these issues for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. 

“They’re more with us than they are with you. They belong to us,” she recited the government’s theme.  

Explaining further the political underpinnings of the push for SBHCs, Cretella said: 

It’s very Marxist, of course, and it’s also diabolical. There’s a political agenda, and there is also a religious agenda. It is inverting God’s order of creation. This country, our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, are rooted in natural law, which ultimately arises from the author of natural law, who is the Creator, who is referred to in our Declaration of Independence. So, there’s a political agenda, and it’s Marxist … attacking God’s order and Creation. That’s the ultimate motivation here. Everything – the sexual revolution, eroding parent rights, destroying the health of our children – it’s a diabolical disorientation, a Marxist disorientation furthering state tyranny. 

School-based health centers located at two Seattle public schools were recently in the news when it was discovered their services include free “gender affirming care” to middle and high school students. 

The centers, established at Meany Middle School and Nova High School, are operated by Country Doctor Community Health Centers, a nonprofit that offers not only “well-child/well-adolescent checks” and “sick visits (including injuries, fevers, sore throats, rashes, asthma),” but also “sexual and reproductive health services,” “gender-affirming care,” and mental health services. 

Country Doctor says its goal in providing gender-affirming care is “to promote health in transgender, non-binary and gender diverse communities through ensuring equal access to gender-affirming medications and procedures.” 

“Our Gender Health Navigator assists patients seeking gender-affirming surgeries and procedures,” the provider’s website continues. “Our Gender Health Nurse provides injection teaching and assists accessing hormones and other gender-affirming medications.” 

Country Doctor appears to offer nearly a full range of transgender medical services for young students who use its school-based health centers. 

While its services include “gender-affirming medications (estrogen, androgen blockers, testosterone, etc.)” and “hormone therapy for adolescents and specialty referrals for younger patients,” the nonprofit notes, “We do not provide puberty blockers at this time.” 

Still, at Meany, Country Doctor says it does offer “referrals for gender-affirming surgeries (e.g. vaginoplasty, chest reconstruction, etc.) and procedures (e.g. speech therapy, electrolysis); and assistance obtaining mental health letters of support for gender-affirming procedures and referrals for internal or external behavioral health counseling as needed.” 

The Nova school-based health center sports LGBTQ flags on its website. 

“The Nova Wellness Center offers no cost comprehensive, trauma-informed, and gender affirming care, conveniently at the school,” the high school touts.  

Country Doctor’s medical services at Nova also include “reproductive health” and “vaccines.” 

“You know this is one more step that is going to further remove kids from parents, further erode parental rights, and basically cast all parents as the enemy of their children,” Cretella warned. “We’re heading toward this.”