Elementary school students in Provincetown, Mass., can now acquire condoms at school. And parents can be assured their children will receive proper instruction about the use of those condoms.
Children as young as grade one will be able to ask for condoms — without parental consent — thanks to a new policy recently approved by the town’s school council.
The policy requires students talk with a school nurse or counselor before receiving condoms, but does not set any age restrictions for distribution. Also, schools will not honor requests from parents who don’t want their children to be given condoms.
According to School Superintendent, Dr. Beth Singer, sexual education is taught in the district’s health classes, but detailed instructions about condom use are not part of the curriculum. Since the policy does not set age limits, she wants to make sure younger students receive proper information about condom usage if they request them.
No mention is made as to whether or not children will be counseled about the perils of sexual activity at such young ages; however, Provincetown’s new policy does contain language stating the district does not approve of students’ having sex. It goes on to say it recognizes the fact that some students are sexually active and, therefore, should practice safe sex.
Having never taught in Massachusetts, I am unfamiliar with their mandatory reporting rules or training for educators. In my home state of Iowa, teachers were mandatory reporters of physical and sexual abuse. A first grader requesting a condom was definitely one of the things that should have sent a teacher running to make a report to the appropriate child protective agencies.
My own daughter is just finishing grade two. She studies health at school geared towards her grade level. Her dad and I keep her age appropriately informed in terms of her sexuality. Condom use, in my opinion, doesn’t fall under “age appropriate.” And if any six or seven-year-old requests one, it should set off alarm bells.
It’s difficult to please all parents when it comes to topics covered in school that fall outside the three R’s. Federal and state governments often pass legislation and create policies ignoring the fact some teacher or school nurse way down below on the food chain is going to be the one responsible for making the whimsical requirements workable.
And this is why we end up with rules that are as ridiculous as the Provincetown condom policy.
Elementary school students are unlikely to ask their school nurse for condoms. But policies that fail to take age into account force schools to adopt stop-gap rules that are just as awful as the bad policy holes they are trying to cover up.