Forget soda and candy machines fattening up our kids, the Philadelphia high school system is about to offer a different type of dispensed product — condoms.
According to ABC News, more than five percent of Philadelphia high school students have tested positive for STDs, leading school officials to the decision that 22 state funded schools should receive condom dispensers.
School district spokesman Fernando Gallard explains the education boards decision:
“We believe distributing condoms is part of our obligation to keep students healthy and to remain healthy. The health department has described this as a continued epidemic of STDs among teenagers in Philadelphia.”
Officials tested more than 130,000 high school students in Philadelphia over the last five years, and 6,500 students tested positive for STDs including several who tested positive for HIV.
The condom dispensing machines will be located in the nurse’s office and will feature free condoms for any students willing to take them.
Any student has the right to take the condoms, although parents can “opt out” of the program for their child by filling out a special form.
While parents can “opt-out,” school officials say they will not enforce those letters, leaving the decision to obey their parents up to the student.
Philadelphia is hardly alone in its effort to hand out free condoms. According to nonprofit Advocates for Youth, at least 418 schools throughout the United States offer free condoms to students.
Abstinence groups and other organizations have not yet gone on the offensive in Philadelphia; however, some bickering among groups is likely to start when students return to classes in early January 2013.