Vermont is the first state to require free condoms in schools
CNN reports that the law was signed last year by Governor Phil Scott but went into effect in July of this year. The law applies to grades seven through 12, and reports show the rollout is complete. Schools are also required to give students inclusive information (representing all gender identities, sexualities, and ethnicities) on how to use condoms correctly, according to the law.
The Condom Availability Program is designed to reduce the risk of HIV, STD, and unplanned pregnancy in sexually active youth and cited the results from the 2019 Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) as evidence for the importance of this program. The anonymous survey that was given to middle and high school students reports:
- 40% of high school students have had sexual intercourse. (The percentage rises with each grade from 18% in 9th grade to ~60% in 12th grade.)
- 50% of females and 59% of sexually active males are using condoms, leaving a large percentage of teens unprotected from teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia and gonorrhea.
- The CDC estimates that nearly 20 million new STIs occur every year in this country, half of those among young people aged 15–24. In our state, more than 70% of the chlamydia infections are among Vermonters ages 15 to 24.
Taking a look at health statistics and data in Washington when compared to Vermont, some numbers are similar as more than roughly half of sexually active high school students use condoms.
“Condoms should be available in locations that are safe and readily accessible for students, without barriers to obtaining condoms or stigma surrounding access (e.g., should be available through health office or classroom, athletic trainer’s office, guidance office or other locations students can comfortably access).” -Condom Availability Program
According to Vermont law (V.S.A. § 4226), minors have the legal right to access reproductive and sexual health services without a parent’s consent.
CNN reports that the Vermont schools don’t have to pay for the condoms Planned Parenthood of Northern New England provides them.
STATISTICS IN WASHINGTON STATE
According to data from the 2017 School Health Profiles Survey, developed by CDC and published by the Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction:
- 8% of 8th graders reported having sex
- 25% of 10th graders reported having sex
- 51% of 12th graders reported having sex
- 57% of 8th graders used a condom during last sexual intercourse
- 57% of 10th graders used a condom during last sexual intercourse
- 53% of 10th graders used a condom during last sexual intercourse
According to the 2019, Comprehensive Sexual Health Education Data Survey, the Washington State Department of Health reported:
- Adolescent pregnancy rates have declined steadily over the past five years.
- 37% decrease among youth ages 15–17
- 24% decrease among ages 18–19
- The rates of STDs among youth ages 15–19 have increased significantly in the past five years.
- Chlamydia rates are up 23%
- Gonorrhea rates are up 71%
- Syphilis rates are up 120%.
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