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Taxpayers foot bill for free condoms in Philly schools

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 27th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Taxpayers will be footing the bill for free condoms in at least 22 Philadelphia-area schools. After winter break, students will be able to get the prophylactics in clear plastic dispensers. The condoms will be in schools that currently have the worst rates for sexually transmitted diseases.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - There is a stipulation: while protection is free to students, parents who sign opt-out forms can have them withheld.

School officials say that nurses will not monitor who takes the free condoms.

"Students are to honor the wishes of their parents," Assistant Superintendent Dennis W. Creedon reportedly wrote in the email message. "If a student disrespects their guardian's directive, that is an issue of the home," he said.

Its part of a pilot program designed to address "an epidemic of sexually transmitted disease in adolescents in Philadelphia," according to Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity Donald F. Schwarz. Since April 2011, the city has given away about four million condoms. The rates for STDS has been reported as declining.

Philadelphia School District officials have sent an email to school nurses, notifying them that the clear-plastic condom dispensers would be installed "just inside the doorway near the entrance to your office."

Two of the schools in the pilot project do not have full-time nurses.

Of the 130,000 Philadelphia students who have received testing in the last five years, some 6,500 or five percent of them have tested positive for diseases including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Parents were made aware of the distribution program in October and were given the chance to opt their children out of receiving the prophylactics.

The school district has not received "specific calls" from parents objecting to the program. The total number of parents who chose to disallow their children from receiving condoms, however, is not known.

According to Advocates for Youth, a nonprofit organization that advocates for sexual health among young people, there are at least 418 schools nationwide provide condoms.

In August, despite outrage from some parents, the school board in Springfield, Mass., approved a plan to distribute condoms in public high schools, as well as middle schools, providing free contraception to students as young as 11.

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