Students between grades 7 to 12 in Vermont may now legally have access to condoms in all public schools following the release of the guidelines and parameters in its distribution and availability from the Vermont Agency of Education.
The guidelines are in compliance with the law signed by Gov. Phil Scott in 2020 to help curb unplanned pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases among middle schoolers and high school students. The guidelines also direct the public schools to prepare a "safe and readily accessible" location where the kids can obtain condoms without any barriers or stigma from the public.
The agency enumerated examples like the school's health office, guidance office, athletic trainer's office, or the classrooms as possible distribution points. Additionally, the schools should not refuse a secondary student any supplies to condoms since they now have a legal right to "a full range of reproductive and sexual health services." The guidelines also emphasized that the kids will not require their parent's permission to have access to condoms.
Planned Parenthood will be providing some of the supplies, along with information and directions on its proper use. However, schools will also have to conduct comprehensive sex education as required by the law.
Risks Among the Young
A survey from 2019 has revealed that an alarming 40 percent of students in Vermont have had sexual intercourse but only half of these students know how to use a condom. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), just under 10 percent of high schools or middle schools give the kids free access to condoms.
The state's education agency also noted studies that showed sexually active kids experiencing delayed sexual initiation or abstinence because they are open to condom availability programs. Data also supported the reduction of HIV, STD and unplanned pregnancy risks among the young when the kids have easy access to condoms.
Amanda Spencer, who works as a school counselor, welcome the rollout after more than two years of waiting. She believes the schools have a "responsibility to encourage their students, their young people, to advocate for themselves."
Republican Rep. Topper McFaun was the author of the bill pushing the students' access to condoms because he wanted to prevent abortion in young girls. He believes that the best way to do this is to allow the kids to protect themselves.
Objecting the Law
However, some Vermont locals have expressed opposition to the law since its introduction in the Legislature more than a year ago. Sharon Toborg of the Vermont Right to Life Committee has argued that access to condoms will make school kids more sexually active and irresponsible.
Toborg said that when kids as young as 12 years old are made to accept condom use as normal and regular, then it's an encouragement to engage in sexual activity that could lead to unwanted pregnancies.
Following the rollout, Vermont will officially be the first state in the U.S. to provide free condoms across its public schools.
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