Students Have a Right to Take Medicine

Let me make this perfectly clear: students have a right to take over-the-counter and prescription medications whenever and wherever their parents permit them to take them. Public schools often claim—under onerous and overreaching ‘zero-tolerance’ drug policies—that parents have to arrange for the school nurse or other official to handle all medicines and provide them to students at specified times and intervals, but this is not the schools’ decision to make. Schools don’t like to admit it, but it is parents who decide what medicines their children may take and when. Period.

It is particularly ludicrous to hear of otherwise well-behaved students finding themselves suspended or expelled for taking cold medicine, pain killers, or—as in the case of one local girl—oral contraceptives. Newsflash to Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS): oral contraceptives are not, and never will be, a recreational drug akin to meth or marijuana. We can debate the morality of oral contraceptives for teenagers ad-infinitum, but once again that’s an issue for the parents not for the public schools. But, no matter how you cut it, taking an oral contraceptive in school is not an offense at all, let alone an offense worthy of the same punishment a student would get for taking a handgun to school.

What’s most amazing is that schools spend an incredible amount of time and effort on being a drug dispensary, enforcing a strict ‘no medicine at all except via our dispensary’ policy, reviewing and editing (big-brother style) student publications, assigning hours-upon-hours of pointless busywork, establishing and enforcing pointless and overly-restrictive dress codes, and labeling honest criticism of school policies as dangerous anarchistic activity. Meanwhile, they fail to . . . you know . . . educate their students in any useful, worthwhile way. Does anybody else see this as an insanely improper prioritization of educational effort?

Scott Bradford is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.