Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (01.27.12) - Monday, January
Rochester schools soon will make condoms available to high
school students, following a 4-3 vote Thursday in favor of the
Nearly a year ago, local health experts recommended a condom
distribution program to the district school board as a way to
help teens avoid STDs and unplanned pregnancies. Officials
with the Metro Council for Teen Potential and the Monroe
County Department of Public Health cited a recent youth
behavior survey indicating that 58 percent of Rochester ninth-
through 12th-graders reported being sexually active, of which
21 percent said they had had at least four partners. In a
typical year, 8 percent of girls ages 15-19 give birth. In
2005, 19 percent of babies born in the city were born to
mothers ages 10-19.
The proposal sparked controversy, with hundreds of people for
and against it attending school board meetings. Many of those
same people were on hand for Thursday's board vote.
"We're not going to appease everyone," said board member Jose
Cruz, who voted in favor of the program along with Mary Adams,
Malik Evans, and Willa Powell. "Our job is to make the best
decision we can with what we hear." Melisza Campos, Cynthia
Elliott, and Van White voted against the proposal.
Under the program, condoms will be made available at health
clinics in city high schools. Health professionals will
provide information about proper usage and sexual risks.
School officials are reworking lessons on reproductive and
sexual health; these may incorporate community-based resources
and more of a focus on contraceptive usage. Parents will be
able to opt their children out of the lessons and block their
access to condoms.