Posted by Condom Depot on 10/05/2004
HOLYOKE MASS. - The School Committee approved a policy to distribute condoms to students in the sixth through 12th grades, but only after debating if it should exclude students in expanding elementary schools.
The policy calls for students to be able to request condoms through school nurses and clinics, in buildings which have them. The health care professionals will also give students information about their use and sex education counseling before they are distributed.
The School Committee voted 9-1 in June to revise its entire health education curriculum to better align it to state standards and give sex education a higher priority. The vote also included a decision to distribute condoms in the middle and high schools.
But the committee still had to create a policy deciding how and where to distribute the condoms. A subcommittee last week finalized the plan to make them available to all schools that have sixth grade or higher.
Parents who do not want their children to receive condoms simply sign a form. They now can do the same if they do not want their children to participate in sex education classes.
While the plan to distribute them in nurses' offices passed with little complaint, committee members proposed changing the second half of the policy and only distributing the condoms in the high schools.
Committee Vice Chairman Michael J. Moriarty said he was concerned about the elementary schools which are expanding to include sixth, seventh and eighth grades and said condom distribution may make parents uncomfortable about enrolling their young children in the school.
When the issue was debated in subcommittee, Superintendent Eduardo B. Carballo said he believed all students the same age should have equal access to all services offered.
"This is a policy that is long overdue," said Jonathan G. Allyn, a committee member. He argued parents would be even more uncomfortable to see a pregnant seventh-grader walking the halls of one of the expanding elementary schools.
Other members agreed, saying the pregnancy rate is growing. This year 39 teens are pregnant in the schools. The plan to distribute them just in the high schools failed 5-3.
"Four of our pregnancies are in the middle schools," said Margaret Boulais, a committee member. "If there are sexually active kids, we will need to help them."
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