Board Encourages Condom Policies For Mass. Schools
The Massachusetts State Board of Education last month became the first state beard in the nation to encourage school districts to consider adopting a condom-distribution policy for high-school students.
The policy, which was adopted unanimously by the board on Aug. 27, recommends that local school beards, in consultation with educators, parents, and students, consider making condoms available in high schools.
"Due to the rising rate of H.I.V. infection and other sexually transmitted diseases among adolescents, the need to address infection prevention in all ways possible is critical at this time," the policy states.
It recommends that school beards consider various methods for distributing condoms to students, including installing vending machines in boys' and girls' lavatories and making them available in the offices of school nurses and counselors.
Kevin Cranston, an AIDS- and health-education consultant in the state department of education, said condoms currently are being distributed at only one high school in the state, in Cambridge, but that several other districts are considering similar moves.
But such policies may be unpopular at the local level, suggested Paul Gorden, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, the local school boards group. "The reaction from some [districts] is that this is another social problem that is being thrust upon the schools to handle," he said.
Katherine Fraser, the program director for the AIDS-education project at the National Association of State Boards of Education, said she knows of no other state that has adopted such a policy.
Local districts have been far more likely to adopt condom-distribution policies. This fall, large-scale distribution programs outside of school based clinics are slated to begin in New York City and Philadelphia high schools. San Francisco educators are expected to consider a proposed program this month.
Later this month, the New York City board is expected to add a parental "opt-out" provision to its condom-distribution program. To date, it is the most liberal program of its kind in the country.--E.F.
Vol. 11, Issue 01, Page 1