Vermont has become the first state in the country to make free condoms available to students in 7th to 12th grade.
Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed a youth contraceptive bill into law last year, WCAX-TV reported.
Condoms are now available in all public middle and high schools in the state. They are being provided by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England to children as young as 12.
Under the new law, schools have to provide students not only with condoms but also with information on how to use them. According to WCAX, “that guidance has to be inclusive of gender identity, sexuality and ethnicity.”
“In order to prevent or reduce unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, each school district shall make condoms available to all students in its secondary schools, free of charge,” the law states.
“School district administrative teams, in consultation with school district nursing staff, shall determine the best manner in which to make condoms available to students.”
The law requires condoms to be “placed in locations that are safe and readily accessible to students, including the school nurse’s office.”
The Vermont Agency of Education released guidelines explaining the reasoning behind making contraceptives available to children.
“Research shows that condom availability programs increase condom use in sexually active youth, promote delayed sexual initiation or abstinence, provide medical care costs savings, and reduce the risk of HIV, STD, and unplanned pregnancy,” the agency said.
The guidelines cited a 2019 study that found that 40 percent of high school students have had sex.
“This is an average across all grades and the percentage rises with each grade from 18% in 9th grade to ~60% in 12th grade.”
The study reportedly found that 50 percent of sexually active girls and 59 percent of sexually active boys use condoms.
“The CDC estimates that nearly 20 million new [sexually transmitted infections] occur every year in this country, half of those among young people aged 15–24,” the education agency said.
The agency argued that “minors in Vermont have a legal right to access a full range of reproductive and sexual health services without parent permission.”
Proponents of the new law say it will protect children from sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.
Critics say it encourages kids to engage in sexual behavior.
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