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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
NEW YORK: Much-Debated Issue of Condoms in Schools OK'd
Tiffany Lankes
January 30, 2012
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 policy.

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.