A new Chicago public school policy will require schools to provide condoms to children as young as ten years old, causing outrage among parents and religious leaders.
The new policy was passed in December 2020, but due to the pandemic, it won’t be fully implemented until next month when schools reopen.
‘Schools that teach grades 5th and up must maintain a condom availability programme,’ according to one tenet of the policy.
‘CPS provides guidelines for notifying parents and allowing approved school representatives access to condoms.
The Chicago Department of Public Health provides condoms at no cost in an ongoing effort to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV infection, and unintended pregnancy among CPS students,’ according to the policy.
Female menstrual hygiene products are also available for free as part of the policy.
‘All schools shall provide free menstrual hygiene products in at least one bathroom in the school building,’ according to the policy.
The Chicago Public Schools system has over 600 schools, with the majority of them serving students in grades fifth and up.
Principals were previously the main arbiters in deciding how sex education and resources were handled in their respective schools.
The Chicago Department of Public Health will distribute 250 condoms to elementary schools and 1,000 to high schools at first.
When they run out, principals will be tasked with contacting CPS and the CDPH to request more.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, CPS’ top doctor, Kenneth Fox, said in a recent interview that “young people have the right to accurate and clear information to make healthy decisions.”
‘And they need resources to protect their own and others’ health as they act on those decisions,’ Fox continued.
Fox will send a letter to parents informing them of the policy, which requires condoms to be kept in easily accessible but private locations.
‘What we want to do is make condoms available to students if and when they think they might need them,’ Fox said.
‘When you don’t have those safeguards in place and don’t provide those resources, bad things happen to young people.’ You have an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies, both of which are easily avoidable,’ Fox added.
Fox also explained why the programme begins with fifth graders, claiming that it is based on a “developmental understanding of children.”