By Jane Northrop
Pacifica Tribune Staff Writer
The Jefferson Union High School District board of trustees unanimously approved making condoms available in the high schools last Tuesday.
The conceptual policy is being drafted by staff and will be presented to the board for final approval at a later date.
The current policy allows students to receive condoms, but only if given to them by a licensed health care practitioner. That means students must make their way to the Daly City Youth Health Center.
The new policy will make it easier for the students to get condoms through the special services counselors at each of the schools.
The board members voted to allow special services counselors to dispense condoms, provided the student has successfully completed the JUHSD health class.
In 2009, the Daly City Youth Health Center, with the blessings of the JUHSD board of trustees, initiated a pilot program making condoms available at Thornton Continuation High School.
When that policy was initiated, Kimberly Gillette, director of the Daly City Youth Health Center, said the Thornton students filled out a survey about sexual activity. All but one said they were already sexually active.
“Condom availability does not increase sexual activity, but it may make them more likely to use a condom,” she said.
Scott Cuyjet, a nurse practitioner at the DCYHC, said students have told him they are embarrassed to buy condoms at the drugstore.
“They are very appreciative they can come in and receive condoms,” he said. “I want to see them protected from pregnancy and from sexually transmitted diseases. I tell them I am glad they are being responsible.”
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease nine percent, or about 200 youth per year, have been treated for in the DCYHC, Gillette said. The DCYHC sees youth up to age 22.
Melissa Ambrose, special services counselor at Oceana High School, said she was in favor of having condoms available in her office.
“Transportation to the DCYHC is an issue for a lot of students,” she said.
Adrianna Hall, the mother of a son at Thornton, urged the board to make condoms available to students.
“Many of the students can’t afford to buy the condoms,” she said. “Condoms will go a long way to preventing pregnancy.”
“We want kids to stay healthy. This is one option that works,” said Gillette.
Other school districts in the Bay Area — San Francisco, some of the Oakland schools, Sequoia Union High School District — have policies allowing distribution of condoms in the high schools. In Half Moon Bay, the public health nurse can meet the student at a convenient location to distribute condoms.
JUHSD Board President Tom Nuris, whose sons attend Terra Nova, initially took the position of a reluctant parent and asked the board to weigh the pros and cons.
“We have to make a decision that’s right for the community. How do we deal with the backlash?” he asked. “There are people out there who don’t agree with this.”
In 2009, the pilot condom distribution program at Thornton made national news. Gillette recalled the superintendent then, Mike Crilly, did not receive any negative comments from the local community. He did, however, receive a couple negative comments from people out of state.
No one spoke against the idea at the JUHSD meeting last Tuesday. All the board members and the parents, teachers and counselors who spoke at the meeting said making condoms available to students will benefit them.
“You have convinced me,” said Nuris.