The Philadelphia school district, which recently announced that it would be closing 37 schools, plans to install condom-filled dispensers in the schools deemed to have the highest rates of sexually-transmitted diseases in the city. It will be providing the condoms free of charge in an effort to combat an “epidemic of sexually transmitted disease” in the city.
“The reality is: Many of our teenagers, regardless of what adults think, are engaged in sexual activities,” stated Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. ”Discussion about whether or not they should be sexually active is an appropriate discussion, but if they are, then we need to make sure they’re engaged in safe sexual practices.”
“We believe distributing condoms is part of our obligation to keep students healthy and to remain healthy,” commented school district spokesman Fernando Gallard. “The health department has described this as a continued epidemic of STDs among teenagers in Philadelphia.”
Gallard also noted that the school district had provided condoms to students in the past as part of the “free, voluntary and confidential” testing for sexual diseases in their schools. Parents were informed of the plan to install the condom dispensers in October and given the opportunity to opt their children out of the program.
According to Advocates for Youth, a group dedicated to educating and assisting teenagers on sexual health, more than 418 public school nationwide already provide condoms to students. The majority of those schools distribute condoms via school nurses or teachers; only 3 percent use “vending machines” to distribute them.
Last summer schools in Springfield, Mass. approved a plan to distribute free condoms to students in middle and high school, while New York City school officials announced a plan to make Plan B emergency contraception available to girls at 13 high schools across the city.