New York City health and school officials have announced that public high schools will be able to begin showing students how to use condoms in their health classes this fall.
Condom demonstrations are currently banned in the district. While students do learn about condoms during sex education in their health classes, individual students must go to a “health resource room” if they would like to see a demonstration of how to properly use them. Free condoms, information and referrals are also available there.
“Condom demonstrations have long been part of the high school condom availability programs and have been shown to increase rates of condom use,” a city education department spokesman said by email. “Allowing condom demonstrations in high school health education class will provide students with medically accurate information that can help them stay healthy.”
Parents have the ability to choose to opt their child out of the new program. Informed of the policy in the middle of May, superintendents are now informing schools of the change to come, writes Leslie Brody for The Wall Street Journal. Parents have always held the right to keep their children from receiving condoms or receiving any training on how to use them.
The Bloomberg administration began to allow lessons on condom usage in 2011 as part of an effort to decrease unplanned teenage pregnancies. While many approved of the effort, some argued that it was not effective enough without demonstrations.
Mona Davids of the New York City Parents Union group said she would like to be informed in more detail exactly what will be included in the demonstrations. The group also feels that parents should have to opt in for their children, rather than opt out, reports Deepti Hajela for NBC New York.
“They need to let parents know, how are they going to do it,” she said, adding, “It’s very vague and it will be difficult for parents to know what the policy is.”
Davids went on to say that there is a difference between talking about using condoms and actually showing how it’s done, and doing so was “stepping on parents’ rights and responsibilities,” adding that with the demonstrations, “it’s kind of like you’re normalizing it.”
According to Diana Rhodes, Director of Public Policy at Advocates for Youth, states around the country are taking different positions on the topic. While some states allow condom education and leave the demonstration portion up to each district, others do not allow schools to demonstrate condom use to students.
A 2011 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) discovered that almost 75% of schools in New York State do not offer any type of instruction concerning condom usage, including demonstrations.