Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (12.16.11) - Tuesday,
Rochester City School District board members on Thursday began
considering whether to allow access to condoms at high school
clinics. In addition, school officials say the board is
weighing changes to the comprehensive sex education curriculum
to enable teachers to hold more in-depth discussions with
students. Board members, who have been split on some of the
issues, began the discussion after months of public feedback.
A vote on condom access is expected in January. Parents would
retain the right to opt their children out of the programs.
"The concept is: We need to do more than just make condoms
available," said Willa Powell, a board member. "We need to
step up the instructional piece of it."
Among the district's ninth- through 12th-graders, 58 percent
report being sexually active, including 21 percent who have
had at least four partners, according to a youth behavior
survey. Nearly half of reported HIV cases in 2010 were among
people under age 25, health officials said. Since January, the
Monroe County Department of Public Health and the Metro
Council for Teen Potential have been urging the board to act
to drive down city youth STD and pregnancy figures.
Thursday's discussion mostly covered cost and the logistics of
how condoms could be accessed. Potential changes to the sex
education program are not yet clear. The district has been
working with community health groups to better utilize their
resources in the classroom.
The district could allow more in-depth lessons on areas where
students have the most questions, said one teacher
interviewed. Some students say the lessons, which begin in
fourth grade and continue through high school, could be more
involved or begin earlier.