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San Francisco school district: Let’s hand out condoms to 6th-graders

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

SAN FRANCISCO, California, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is considering a new policy that would hand out condoms to middle-school students.

The idea was proposed last month by SFUSD Superintendent Richard A. Carranza, who was selected in 2012 to run city schools by the San Francisco Board of Education. SFUSD's Curriculum and Program Committee discussed the issue Monday night.

San Francisco middle schools would be following the lead of Oakland middle schools, which began passing out condoms to sixth- to eighth-graders in 2014. 

Proponents like SFUSD's Kevin Gogin say handing out condoms "lessens the amount of sexual activity." But critics say school condom distribution to minors promotes a view of sex as designed for uncommitted recreation instead of committed marriage.

Christian Action Network's Taryn Hodgson said teenagers should be taught that "sex is something sacred to be shared between a husband and a wife, and the only fail-safe message to prevent HIV/AIDS and teen pregnancy is abstinence."

Superintendent Carranza also recommended eliminating the exemption option for parents. For twenty years, the district has allowed parents of high-schoolers to opt out of or exclude their children from the condom distribution program.

SFUSD argues that five percent of middle school students say they have had sex, according to a recent survey. They also say handing out condoms in San Francisco high schools has been successful, because only 26 percent of students say they have had sex, while the national average is 47 percent.

If SFUSD adopts Superintendent Carranza's condom distribution recommendation, parents will be kept out of the loop. The district admits that parents would not be informed of their children's condom use.

SFUSD's Office of School Health Programs' website admits that while condom availability is promoted in the school's handbook, "[m]inors may participate in Condom Availability Program (CAP) without parental permission."

"I think it comes down to the parents. It's the parents who should be on top of this," school district parent Susan Porotesano said.

The issue of condom distribution in schools is faced by school districts around the world. Jamaican education minister Ronald Thwaites countered such a proposal for his country's schools by declaring, "We will not be distributing condoms in schools. Restraint must be taught by example and precept. Sex education? Yes. Condoms? No."

Dr. Faisal Suliman of South Africa reasoned, "We need a united message of morality. In Uganda the HIV rate was not brought down by condoms but by abstinence."

"If teachers distribute condoms, they will be seen to be promoting sexual activity," said Peter Fenton, from the Western Cape education department.

In the United States, Planned Parenthood is currently supporting new legislation called the Healthy Adolescents Act, which opposes abstinence-only sex education and will force "comprehensive" sex ed in schools.

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