Protesters flock to Reading School Board meeting

Protesters flock to Reading School...

READING, Pa. - Despite being pulled from the agenda at last week’s meeting of the Reading School Board's committee of the whole, protesters both in support of and against Planned Parenthood flocked to Wednesday night's regular board meeting to make their opinions known about the proposed reproductive health program at Reading High School.

The program, which would be overseen by an organization called AccessMatters, would include a Planned Parenthood Keystone presence in the school, as it would run daily program operations. The program, intended as an education and resource center, would operate at no cost to the district.

Both current and recent students addressed the board, but just like other members of the public, their opinions were split.

Former district student Arianne Cabral is in favor of the program, having gone through the courses that “only teach abstinence.” She said she feels students would benefit from a resource to whom they could privately ask sex and sexuality questions.

Reading senior Stephanie Sanchez is against the program, stating that the resources won’t “increase knowledge about sex, but just increase sex.”

The general consensus of those for the program is the fact that teens are having sex and teen pregnancy levels are high for Reading students should not be ignored, while the opposition advocated for education and decisions to be placed back in the hands of family and churches.

Ginny Chudgar rebutted the idea that all Reading students received sex education at home, and cited the “unacceptable” rate of teen pregnancy among Reading High School students.

She labeled the idea of young people being expected to navigate this type of decision-making without assistance as “cruel."

The item will likely be back on the agenda at the board’s meeting on August 16.

The board also approved the 2017-2018 final budget for the general fund. The final amount stands at $261.3 million.

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