A school district in Oregon has decided not to give out a bunch of condoms to local 12-year-olds after all.
The board of directors for the Gervais School District — very roughly midway between Portland and Salem — had voted back in May to provide free condoms to all students from sixth grade through 12th grade, reports the Statesman Journal, Salem’s main newspaper.
Parental notification does not appear to have been part of the ambitious plan.
The only catch would be that the students would first have to sit through a talk involving safe sex and other lovemaking tips from a teacher trained in such matters.
This week, however, the board decided to hold back for awhile on its plan to distribute contraceptives to barely pubescent — if pubescent at all — 12-year-old students.
Officially, the school board’s reasoning for the policy change is a suddenly pressing need for more time and more research.
“We would be the only district in Oregon if we proceeded to implement this as it is laid out in September,” said Matt Henry, the district’s new superintendent.
Severe criticism from local parents at a June board meeting also appears to have played a role in the decision to abandon the massive condom giveaway.
Exactly zero parents spoke in support of the plan, according to an earlier Statesman Journal report.
Many parents voiced concerns that public, taxpayer-funded schools have no business giving condoms to children without first notifying parents.
“Don’t go just handing them out,” said Fortino Olea, a father of three teenagers, at the meeting. “I’d like to know if my son is sexually active.”
Erinn Tanguay, a mother of two, said she also wanted to know what her kids were doing.
“I would hope that my daughter would be able to come to me,” she said at the meeting, “but you never know how teenage girls are going to be.”
The impetus for the generous free-condom policy came after a study by Oregon Health & Science University showed that seven percent of the female population at Gervais High School had been pregnant.
Nine girls in the local high school and middle school were pregnant during a single recent school year, notes the Statesman Journal.
Olea, the father of three teens, observed at the June meeting that townspeople have certainly noticed the number of pregnant teenage girls walking around.
“We see it all the time,” he said, according to the Journal. “I’ll think, ‘That girl can’t be more than 14 or 15 years old.’ It’s outrageous.”
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