Vermont is now the first state that mandates that condoms be available to be given out to all students in grades 7-12. Condoms are provided to the schools by Planned Parenthood free of charge.
The order was signed into law by Governor Phil Scot and went into effect in July 2021.
The Vermont Agency of Education recently released guidance on the distribution of condoms in middle and high schools. Some schools were already making condoms available, but the 2021 school year is when it was required for all schools.
The guidance states:
“Condoms should be available in locations that are safe and readily accessible for students, without barriers to obtaining condoms or stigma surrounding access (e.g., should be available through health office or classroom, athletic trainer’s office, guidance office or other locations students can comfortably access).”
Proponents of the statute believe having condoms readily accessible will prevent or reduce unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
According to a 2019 Vermont Youth Risk Survey distributed to middle and high school kids in Vermont, 40% of high schoolers have had sexual intercourse. About half of those teens are using condoms.
Lucy Leriche, vice president of Vermont public affairs for Planned Parenthood, noted that condom availability increases condom use. Leriche wrote, “Studies of school condom availability programs find a significant increase in condom use among sexually active students but no increase in sexual activity.”
Executive Director Mary Beerworth of the Vermont Right to Life Committee protested the action in June. She said, “Parents have no idea that bowls of condoms are going to be placed potentially in the nurse’s office and potentially in the bathroom. We’re concerned it’s a subtle endorsement of early sexual activity.”
Beeworth notes that she knows a lot of women under 18 who’ve had abortions because they forgot to take their birth control pill. She believes this new order will lead to girls having an abortion as one of their alternative options.
Sharon Toborg, the Vermont Right to Life Committee policy analyst, commented on the policy, “Parents’ rights continue to be denied by those who provide abortions and contraceptives to children without parental knowledge.” She acknowledges her children’s school offers condoms but allows parents to opt out. The new legislation would not allow parents to opt their children out.
Some parents commented, “How about teaching students not to have sexual intercourse until they are responsible enough to be self-sufficient and a parent. It’s called ‘abstinence!”
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