Chicago schools slammed over free condoms for 5th graders: 'Putting cart before the horse'

Chicago Public Schools' health officer said the decision was 'informed by a developmental understanding of children'


                            Chicago schools slammed over free condoms for 5th graders: 'Putting cart before the horse'
(John Slater/Getty Images)

Chicago elementary school students have quite a welcome gift in store for them when they return to school in August. In an attempt to make sexual wellness more readily available to those who think they need them, Chicago schools are now providing condoms to students as young as fifth-graders. The program to stock hundreds of condoms accessible to students that young is reportedly part of a policy approved by the Chicago Public Schools' board of education. Also calling for the availability of menstruation products, the move has already been slammed by parents who think officials are going about things backward and essentially, putting the cart before the horse.

News of this comes after a Manhattan private school once attended by Barron Trump drew flak for organizing a 'porn literacy' class teaching 'kink and BDSM', search terms like 'creampie'. The seminar was led by a former Dalton School teacher who resigned in the wake of the controversy her teachings spurred after parents were outraged to learn she had allegedly shown masturbation videos to 6-year-olds in sex-education classes. As for the Chicago elementary schools getting condoms for fifth graders, pediatrician and the chief health officer for CPS Dr Kenneth Fox, told the Chicago Sunday Times that the decision was "informed by a developmental understanding of children."

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According to Dr Fox, young people “have the right to accurate and clear information to make healthy decisions” and “need access to resources to protect their health and the health of others as they act on those decisions. Essentially, what we want to do is make condoms available to students for if and when they think they need them. When you don’t have those protections and don’t make those resources available, then bad stuff happens to young people. You have elevated risks of sexually transmitted infections — of unintended pregnancies — and that’s very preventable stuff.”

Agreeing that not everyone will approve of the decision, Fox also added that society “has changed” over the years. Parent Maria Serrano, who works with a sex-education oriented organization called Healing to Action, slammed the decision in an interview with the Chicago Sunday Times: "My question is, ‘Oh my God, how is it that CPS wants to give condoms to kids?' They are 10 years old, 11, 12. They are kids. So why is CPS thinking about providing condoms? Why not provide them information, and at the end give them the resource of a condom when they are prepared to use those resources they want to provide. For me, this isn’t the best option. They are doing things backwards.”

Demonstrator Bryan Fleury wears a hat adorned with condoms at a rally outside the United Nations' High Level Meeting on HIV & AIDS at U.N. headquarters June 8, 2011 in New York City (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

But outrage from parents hasn't been able to pause the policy from moving forward. According to reports, elementary schools will be provided 250 condoms first, and high schools 1,000.  Many high schools already have the provision, but going forward, these condoms will be provided to all schools free of cost. School administrators can also request more from CPS or the Chicago Department of Public Health.

In an attempt to pacify parents' outrage, Scout Bratt, an outreach and education director at the Chicago Women’s Health Center, explained: “(the) existence of condoms does not mean that all students are going to be using those condoms or encouraged to use them. The idea is to say we are educational centers, we are community health centers essentially, and we know to invest in young folks’ health and well-being by providing comprehensive sex ed, it means we also need to provide the resources." Describing the policy as "a harm reduction approach," Bratt added: "We want students to come to us and to have access to those condoms for free, as opposed to potentially having to find them elsewhere or choose not to use condoms. It is about recognizing that school is investing in young people’s health."

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