Parents question ‘sexually invasive’ physical exams in schools

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A group of Buffalo parents want the school district to review its policy on Tanner Stages exams.

The exams look at a child’s sexual development and are part of a no-cost program in Buffalo Public Schools to provide full physical exams for students.

The group of concerned parents told News 4 they were not aware of the invasive exams. Annette Jordan says she did not know the physical exam was happening until her 12-year-old daughter came home from school.

She said her daughter told her, “The nurse told me to take my shirt off and I took my shirt off but I was scared and then she wanted me to take off my panties and look at the hair down there and I told her no, you’re not going in my underwear.”

That incident happened more than two years ago. Jordan decided to come forward with her concerns after learning another parent, Edie Harris, had a a similar experience.

Harris said she was surprised to learn her daughter was asked whether she was sexually active.

Harris said, “They should not be checking our children anywhere on their body that is sexual, that is unethical.”

Buffalo Public Schools Director of Health Sue Ventresca told News4, the Tanner Stages exams are part of a normal full physical examination.

Ventresca explained there are 12 city schools that have school-based health centers. Parents must choose to enroll their children in those programs and as part of that agreement, they agree to the full physical exam.

Ventresca said students are required to have a full physical at certain grade levels. Most parents choose to take their children to their own family doctor. If that does not happen, a letter is sent home to parents letting them know that unless they opt out, a nurse practitioner will conduct the physical at school.

Both Harris and Jordan say the notification process is flawed and policy needs to change so all parents are aware of the exams and what they entail.

They have both hired lawyers and are planning on taking legal action against the district.

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