Condom Distribution Policy Needed


by Chelsea Gagnon

The 2011 Metrowest  Adolescent Health Survey reports that 40% of HHS students have had sex, yet 53% of students don’t use condoms at our school. These numbers are troubling. In a survey of 150 students taken this year, 23 students reported that they were sexually active and do not use condoms, while 28 reported that they do use condoms.

Up until this year only eighth grade had mandatory sex education. Next year it will be mandatory for eighth,  eleventh and twelfth graders.

Students should have sex ed every year, and condoms should be readily available without question or scrutiny to all high school students to hopefully decrease the number of students having unprotected sex and unintended pregnancies.

One HHS student who has a child believed birth control was enough protection. Of the 150 students surveyed, 12 of the 23 that reported they did not use condoms didn’t use them because they were “uncomfortable” or “inconvenient.” This shows the need for more education because oral contraceptives are only 99% effective, and it still leaves a slight chance of pregnancy.

No area high schools distribute condoms: Framingham, Westboro, Algonquin, Natick and Nashoba do not distribute condoms to their students.

However Framingham High School does refer their students to their Adolescent Health Nurses program; the remaining schools will refer students to a Planned Parenthood in the area for further questions outside of school. In fact most schools in the area have never even discussed a distribution policy at any school board meeting. Despite the need for a policy like this, no one seems to have any interest in passing one.

What is the best way to supply condoms in our school? Provincetown High School, in Provincetown, Massachusetts, passed a proposal to have the nurses hand the condoms out when a student asks for it directly. Although this is a good idea, does anyone really expect a student to ask a nurse for a condom? Five of the 150 students surveyed said they don’t use condoms because they are “inaccessible.” One student said, “I don’t have a car, so I can’t just ask my mom to drive me to CVS. That’s awkward.”

Having condoms in the nurses’ bathrooms doesn’t eliminate the lack of confidentiality this creates, even with the school confidentiality rule we have in place now. Nurses at HHS say they would support condom distribution, but they would like to be separated from it. They think that a bowl of condoms in the bathroom would be a good way to distribute them.

Given the survey, there should be an annual sexual education class and a condom distribution program at our school. The school should put some funding into getting a small wall vending machine and selling the condoms in the nurses’ bathrooms for 25 or 50 cents. This would not only cover the cost of the condoms, but it would also place the condoms in a safe place away from possible peer embarrassment and pressure, and it eliminates the need to ask anyone to get them for you.