In Provincetown, Massachusetts, the School Board has decided it’s appropriate to distribute condoms in elementary schools, beginning in first grade.
If the decision stands amid the publicity and parental disapproval, distribution will begin in Fall 2010.
At that time, any elementary school student in Provincetown will be able to request a condom from their school nurse. The policy requires that the student first receive counseling, including how to wear a condom and information on abstinence. The policy does not include notifying parents of their child’s request.
In an interview with Boston’s WBZ-TV, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is urging the school superintendent to reconsider. Patrick cited that reproductive health education should be done at the normal high school age recommended by the Department of Public Health.
An additional WBZ report states that School Superintendent Beth Singer feels the condoms must be distributed without parental knowledge in order to (paraphrased) honor the children’s privacy.
Parents interviewed in the same article do not agree for various reasons, including that school policy dictates parental permission is still needed for the distribution of aspirin.
However, a precedent was set in a ruling by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2005 that parents have no rights regarding children’s sex education in public schools (Fields v. Palmdale School District).
Over at FoxNews, Massachusetts Family Institute representatives called the upcoming policy absurd, and presumed it will encourage children to engage in sexual activity at much too early an age.
These suspicions are supported by research from more liberal organizations. In 1986, Planned Parenthood commissioned a Harris poll expecting results favoring early sex education. But, in the poll, the teens who had taken Planned Parenthood’s approved comprehensive sex ed courses had increased to a higher rate of sexual activity, without increasing their use of birth control (1986 Harris poll, ‘The Planned Parenthood Poll: American Teens Speak: Sex, Myths, TV and Birth Control’).
With condom distribution in high schools, increased pregnancy rates are recorded:
For example, in Colorado, Adams City High School’s birth rate increased 42 percent the year they began distributing condoms. One birth for every eight girls, totalling 108 children that year. In the years that followed, the school’s birth rate among students reached 31 percent above the national average.
(“Birth Rate Soars at Colorado School,” Jana Mazanee, USA Today, May 19, 1992, page 3A).*
Sources (no direct quotes):
–Fields v. Palmdale School District (PDF file) Findlaw.com. See Docket pp. 7-8.
-“Condoms to first graders? Mass. Elementary school under fire,” Neil Katz, CBS Health News, 6/24/10.
-“School condom policy: Mass. Governor Blasts Plan…” Aina Hunter, CBS Health News, 6/24/10.
-“Condoms for First Graders? School Board’s Decision Sparks Firestorm in Massachusetts,” Ed Barnes,FoxNews, 6/24/10.
-1986 Harris poll most recently cited at this non-religiously affiliated article and site: “Robeson High vs Adam City vs Meghan,” Bob Enyart Live, KGOV, 10/16/09.
*-USA Today report on Adams City High School condom distribution is not online, but cited at Kaiser Network Daily Reports Archives.