San Francisco middle schoolers can go to their nurse’s office and be given condoms without parental consent
The San Francisco Unified School District made condoms available in their high schools back in 1992 and a recent unanimous decision by the San Francisco Board of Education is making condoms available to even younger kids: middle schoolers.
In a statement on the school district’s web site, Kevin Gogin, Director of Safety and Wellness, said “We want to engage students in discussions about their reproductive health so they are equipped to make healthy decisions… There is no research that supports providing condoms in schools increases sexual activity.” Research or not, the decision has unsurprisingly made some parents uncomfortable.
Nikkie Ho, a parent, told ABC7, “We’re talking about between 11 and 14 years old. And they are not ready for it, so I don’t think this is appropriate.” Another parent made an interesting comparison, saying, “We have to sign a consent form for them to go on a field trip, but we don’t need to know if they’re getting a condom?”
It does seem a bit of a head scratcher.
The kids aren’t being handed condoms as they exit school assemblies, though. The statement released tells us, “Middle school students will be required to meet with San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) nurses or school social workers for assessment, education, and intervention. Only after a nurse or social worker deems it appropriate, students will receive information about condom use, its risks and effectiveness. They will also be informed that abstinence is the only 100 percent effective method to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.”
So that’s good. It’s not like there are condom vending machines in every bathroom on every campus. But, still, isn’t eleven-years-old a bit young to have access to condoms?
There’s no doubt that preteens and teenagers in this day and age are being exposed to sexuality much earlier and with greater access thanks to the internet, YouTube, and whatever else the kids are into these days. Because of this earlier exposure, it makes sense that sexual education in school should be ramped up, and maybe even the subject matter should be doled out earlier in life than when we were in school. And while there’s no proof that allowing condoms in school increases sexual activity, the whole situation can be cringe-inducing.
Eleven-year-olds don’t need access to condoms. They need education. They need a safe place to ask questions and have them answered in a respectful, honest dialogue. I fully stand behind sex education in schools and in the home and I hope to raise my kids in such a house. But for children this young to have access to condoms without their parents knowing is just ludicrous.
These kids, many of whom aren’t old enough to be home by themselves, or perhaps even still have Barbie dolls stowed away in their closets, now have access to condoms without the parent knowing. Parents are informed of poor grades because these grades can have a great impact on the child’s future if they don’t make it into college. Parents are informed of any violence or drug use or other behavior which requires discipline their child is involved in so as to find a solution for the child to receive any help they need. This is because, as cliche as it is, children are our future and we want them to go forth into the world with knowledge and understanding of society and how it works.
But sex, something that can have an even more devastating consequence on a child’s health and future, is somehow not something which needs to be disclosed to the parents? At some point the cord has to be cut and children grow up and are going to do what they want, but eleven and twelve-years-old is not the age for that kind of autonomy. At these impressionable ages, when, as Britney said, they’re “not a girl, not yet a woman” or boy/man, they shouldn’t be allowed such easy access to birth control without their parents being informed of it.
If you’re not old enough to see a PG-13 movie by yourself, you’re not old enough to shove a condom into your backpack without your parents seeing you put it there.