Should Condoms Be Available in High Schools?

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The issue of sex education has long been a controversial one. The two basic types of sex education in the United States are abstinence-only and comprehensive. While comprehensive education advocates abstinence as the primary defense against unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and HIV/AIDS, it also addresses the inevitability that some adolescents have or will engage in sexual behavior. Twenty-one of the fifty states have school districts which provide condom availability programs (Brown, Pennylegion, & Hillard, 1997). Providing information about contraception and how to have “safer” sex is an integral part of comprehensive sex education. Providing condoms in schools is a much debated aspect of some comprehensive programs. In contrast, abstinence-only programs discuss abstinence, or refraining from sex until marriage, as the only guarantee of protection from the growing epidemics of teenage pregnancy, STDs, and HIV/AIDS. Although published surveys report 68% to 75% of adults have supported distributing condoms in schools (Fanburg, Kaplan, & Naylor, 1995), more than half of students in the United States are being taught abstinence-only curricula, according to a website dedicated to adult sex education, ( Both types of education seek to diminish the growing rate of these problems among adolescents. Advocates of either program have strong opinions on having condoms available to students in school. This issue of condoms in schools is a growing concern because of increasing rates of sexual behavior, earlier onset of sexual activity, teenage pregnancy, and the spreading of STDs and HIV. The Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development reported 17% of girls and 29% of boys engaging in sexual intercourse by age 16 (Singer 1994). Fifty-three percent of high school students in the US reported having had sexual intercourse, thirty-eight percent in the past three months. Forty-seven percent failed to use a condom. It should be of little surprise with these statistics that 25% of new HIV infections occur in people between 13 and 20 years old (Brown, Pennylegion, & Hillard 1997). Court Decisions Just how concerned are parents and school administrators? There has been much debate on this topic and one website, ( outlines the ongoing debate. This debate includes many parents taking on the school system to get rid of condom availability in their children’s schools, citing such reasons as their fundamental right to remain free from governmental interference with their child rearing, their rights to familial privacy, parental liberty, and religious freedom. Other statutes made compromises, such as allowing availability of condoms, but also allowing parents to request their child not be able to receive condoms. While some of these statutes against availability were passed, others were denied. The responsibility currently resides primarily with the individual school districts.

Basic Pros and Cons

An online debate topic database, outlines the argument for and against condom availability in schools ( Some positive aspects of providing condoms included that providing condoms could reduce incidence of unwanted, teenage pregnancy and the spread of STDs. Secondly, a comprehensive sex education program including condom provision accepts the inevitability of adolescent sex and encourages students to make wise, “safe” decisions if they do have sex. It is a wise investment by the government to supply condoms for schools in that it is very expensive to address problems created by irresponsible sexual behaviors. This website also mentioned that providing condoms empowers women in that historically,...
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