MONTPELIER, VT – Of all the things that should be required to provide teenage students, condoms probably would not be on the top of the list for most parents.
However in Vermont, all public schools will now be required to keep them on hand…to pass out to teenagers.
— New York Post (@nypost) November 10, 2021
The bill to require middle and high school-aged children to have easy access to condoms was first introduced by Vermont Republican State Representative Topper McFaun. The bill requires that condoms be in a safe location and maintained by school administration and nursing staff.
After the bill was passed, Republican Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed it into law. The reasoning behind the law is clear – to prevent teenage pregnancy is to lessen the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. The bill, under Title 16, subchapter 007, 132:
“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.
School district administrative teams, in consultation with school district nursing staff, shall determine the best manner in which to make condoms available to students.
At a minimum, condoms shall be placed in locations that are safe and readily accessible to students., including the school nurse’s office.”
Vermont becomes first US state requiring secondary schools to distribute free condoms to all pupils https://t.co/RaShHWZmGX
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) November 11, 2021
What this simply means is that the taxpayers in the State of Vermont are paying the bill for condoms to be made available to all students in secondary education.
This also, at least somewhat, condones underage sexual interactions which could lead to other issues.
Something that Sharon Toborg, a policy analyst for the Vermont Right to Life Committee, notes:
“I think perhaps Representative McFaun has good intentions. But the reality is that when you encourage sexual activity among young kids and treat it as normal and acceptable for 12-year-olds to be engaging in sexual activity, you are creating an atmosphere that will lead to more sexual activity and more unintended pregnancies.”
While people like Toborg have concerns about the unintended consequences of allegedly making it okay for pre-teens and teenagers to engage in sexual activity, others think that it is a good idea, and one reason they hold that belief is because of an anonymous 2019 survey of the Vermont youth.
This survey was distributed to middle and high school students and they were asked several questions, including about sexual activity.
Vermont is now 1st state to require access to condoms in all middle and high schools https://t.co/o7eZ8xTJTe
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) November 10, 2021
The responses to the survey showed that roughly 40 percent of the high school students that responded have been involved in some form of sexual activity.
Roughly half of those students allege that they used condoms, which, if the study is correct, roughly twenty percent of those students engaging in sexual activity have done so without any form of protection.
While the results seem to show a snapshot into the sexual lives of Vermont’s youth, it should be noted that these are middle and high school students that filled this out, which means that some children may have marked yes to be ‘cool’ while others may have marked no because they feared the survey was not anonymous.
Because of that risk, people like Amanda Spencer, a counselor at Winooski Middle School, feel that the youth need to push for more things that keep them safer. Spencer said:
“Middle and high schools have a responsibility to encourage their students, their young people, to advocate for themselves, to ask questions, to clarify confusion.”
The rollout of condoms has already started in this state, regardless of varying opinions. As of now, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England is providing condoms, which also come with information regarding proper condom use, gender identity, and sexuality in general.
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Despite efforts by members of Parents for Safe Schools and other organizations and individuals to repeal the new law, Tuesday’s early results showed the vote was split about 60-40 in the first vote count, according to Spokane’s The Spokesman-Review.
The referendum is also the nation’s first sexual education fight to be decided via ballot.
With 87 percent of precincts reporting as of Nov. 5, there were 2,030,289 “yes” votes and 1,411,824 “no” votes.
Referendum 90 was first placed on the ballot in June, and has ignited debate throughout Washington. Opponents of the sex education bill had gathered more than 266,000 signatures to allow voters to decide in November’s elections whether the referendum should be approved or repealed.
The bill which was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee (D) in March, requires all 295 public school districts in Washington to teach comprehensive sexual health education several times throughout a child’s K-12 education. The bill goes into effect 30 days after its passage.
K-3 students will be taught social-emotional learning consistent with standards set by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, according to The Spokesman-Review.
The bill also requires students to learn about affirmative consent, the conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity as a requirement before sexual activity.
In a review of curriculum at public school districts in Spokane, The Spokesman-Review noted some school districts would not have to make curriculum changes if Referendum 90 passed.
According to the news outlet, Spokane Public Schools would not have to change anything because the district already follows the requirements laid out in the new law. Other districts may have to make adjustments.
Supporters of the bill say it will give all Washington students equal access to sex education, protect them from sexual abuse and harassment, and help them make healthier choices.
“It tells us that the majority of Washingtonians are showing really resounding support for comprehensive sex education and that is really, really good news for Washington’s young people.”
Normand also told The Spokesman-Review:
“This is about the human rights and dignity of young people. They are deserving of honesty and inclusion.”
Opponents of the bill disagree, and say it doesn’t provide enough local and parental control, and also teaches young students graphic information about sex.
The state’s Republican Party and several anti-abortion groups joined parents and members of Parents for Safe Schools and like-minded groups in opposing the bill, arguing it strips power from local school boards and introduces certain sexual topics that are inappropriate, especially for younger children.
Critics of the bill were also incensed by a cartoon that was allegedly going to be used in teaching sex positions to fourth-graders. According to U.S. News & World Report, this issue carried over into the non-partisan race for Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Incumbent Chris Reykdal had filed suit against opponent Maia Espinoza for statements made in a voting guide sent out by her campaign regarding his support for the referendum. The defamation case was decided by the state Supreme Court in favor of the “anti-sex education” candidate.
“You can’t opt out of the playground talk, you can’t opt out of what happens in the lunchroom.
“If you look at the curriculum options that are approved under OSPI, we as parents, myself as a parent of a middle schooler, do not find this content is not entirely age-appropriate. So, we have deep concerns.”
A coalition of Republicans and religious conservatives has opposed the content of the new standards and rallied for local control. Republicans say they don’t oppose sex education, but view the statewide mandate as taking control away from parents.
Some of the sex education mandates have also offended religious conservatives like the Washington State Catholic Conference, the policy arm of the state’s church leadership. For example, teaching affirmative consent goes against Catholic religious beliefs on premarital sex.
U.S. News & World Report wrote:
“Kindergarteners will be taught how to manage feelings and make friends.
“What is taught in the older grades is what makes it one of the most progressive statewide sex ed mandates in the country, as it addresses relatively new concepts in the classroom — like affirmative consent that was born from the #MeToo movement — and also LGBTQ issues, and bystander training.”
Anniece Barker, of A Voice for Washington Children, told The Spokesman-Review in September:
“For the state to come in and say they know better than parents about what is age-appropriate, that in itself is inappropriate.
Lander Groff, a mother of three from Snohomish, views the bill as overstepping parents:
“I have found it vital to sit down with my kids and to have those personal conversations when they’re ready. It desensitizes these kids to a point where I just feel like it’s over-sexualizing them.”
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