New York City: Suit Says School Ordered Girls Tested for Diseases After Party
July 9, 2003
After learning of a mid-April "hooky party" where sexual activity allegedly took place, New York City school officials ordered about a dozen girls reported to be at the party to undergo medical tests for STDs and pregnancy and demanded to see doctors' notes about the results, the students said.Adapted from:
According to the girls, the principal and administrators at Intermediate School 164 in Washington Heights said they could not return to school until the notes were received, and the implicit message was they would be kicked out of school if the results were bad.
The aftermath of the party is now the subject of a lawsuit filed yesterday in Federal District Court in Manhattan. With the help of the New York Civil Liberties Union, two of the girls claim IS 164 and the Department of Education violated their constitutional rights to privacy, bodily integrity, due process and equality. The girls are asking for an apology, the return of confidential medical information, and the deletion of disciplinary action taken against them.
The girls, who underwent pelvic examinations and had blood drawn, mostly went to a free neighborhood health clinic. Medical professionals there, taken aback by the requests for tests and notes, alerted the NYCLU about the matter. "I was outraged, basically," said Dr. David Bell, an adolescent medicine specialist at New York Presbyterian Hospital's Family Planning Clinic. Bell lamented "having the teens presented to me as punishment," and forced to undergo intrusive procedures.
Joel I. Klein, the school's chancellor, said yesterday he had yet to see the lawsuit. "We'll respond appropriately in court," said Klein. "But as someone who spent his life in the law, the difference between allegations and proof is critical to remember."
The girls were eventually allowed to return to school after two days. Donna Lieberman, executive director of NYCLU, said in a statement that the incident "is part of a pattern of the school system taking a fundamentally misguided approach to teenage girls and their health."
New York Times
07.09.03; Susan Sualny; Abby Goodnough
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.