Milwaukee Public Schools' health officials want to make condoms freely available to students in many of the district's high schools, as part of an effort to combat the health risks that sexually transmitted infections and other communicable diseases pose to young people.
But allowing students to obtain contraception at school can be controversial. The leader of one local group that supports abstinence education in schools has already said she's against the idea.
Sally Ladke, executive director of the Wisconsin Abstinence Coalition, said that a comprehensive medical exam, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and a full report of a student's medical and family history should be required before any school offered a student contraception.
"If they're already sexually active, use this as an opportunity to treat the STD they may have already," Ladke said. "Let's have counseling with the kids. This should be done in careful consultation with a doctor."
The condoms would be available only in high schools with nurses, and a student would have to talk to a nurse before he or she could obtain contraception.
Students may be able to obtain up to two condoms, which would be accompanied by literature about sexually transmitted infections, and other "youth friendly" material about the risks of sexual activity, Murphy said.
"We really want to make sure it's not just the provision of a condom, but an opportunity for a student to have a conversation with a qualified health professional," Murphy said. "The goal is not to have the nurse be a barrier. I don't envision students having to make an appointment."
Murphy said the cost of the program would be fairly minimal, and that funding for the contraception would come from nondistrict sources.
Susan Wooley, executive director of the American School Health Association, said common concerns about the practice include whether parental consent is required, whether students can be anonymous in obtaining condoms, and whether the record of obtaining contraception would enter into the student's health record or academic files.
Also, Wooley said, some people are concerned that offering contraception in schools will encourage sexual activity.
"Most of the research that has been done in sexuality education has shown that it does increase the use of contraception, but not the rate of being sexually active," Wooley said.
Murphy added that she didn't expect students in MPS would have to obtain parental consent because state and federal laws allow them to receive contraception and pregnancy testing in outside clinics without parental consent.
She also said that she didn't envision that receiving contraception would enter into their school or medical record.
"We're hoping that the end result will be less sexual activity rather than more if this is done right."
The continued intrusion of public schools into the health care bubble of minor children should constitute a red flag to parents.
MPS is leaning a heavy elbow into the side of families throughout the district it serves. Calling the condom giveaway program by a surreptitious name such as "Communicable Disease Prevention Program" slickly disengages those who are unaware of the dangers of such a program. Call it what it is:
A trend setter.
No school district should be assimilating family values in place of the moral standards by which a child is trained at home. Should parents fail to instill values, that issue continues to lie solely with the parent(s), and not become the pet project of a governmental institution.
A family destroyer.
Condom distribution and sex counseling undermines familial authority; lack of parental notification encourages sneaking, lying and damaging home relationships.
A taxpayer burden.
If anything, promoting condom use is a degradation of the intelligence capabilities of our youth, and makes a clear statement that teens are unable to exercise the will power to say "no" to the misuse of sex.
MPS should stick to academics and stay out of the family values department.
Just wondering, MPS - If you're going to hand out condoms, who is going to check to be sure the kids are using them?