One of Palo Alto Unified School District’s key goals is to ensure and promote the safety and health of the student body. A key part of achieving that goal is the promotion of sexual health and safe sexual practices among students. In keeping with the objective of promoting sexual health among students, the Palo Alto High School Wellness Center should provide condoms and other safe sex products free of charge to students.
According to Paly-specific data from the California Healthy Kids Survey, 18% of juniors have had sex. Alarmingly, over 61% of Paly students who engaged in sexual activity did not use any form of barrier protection such as a condom or dental dam. Many forms of sexual activity can carry inherent risks of unplanned pregnancies or sexually transmitted infection but proper use of protection methods can significantly mitigate these risks.
Over 61% of Paly students who engaged in sexual activity did not use any form of barrier protection such as a condom or dental dam.
A 2017 report in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that students at schools where condoms are readily available experience lower rates of unplanned pregnancies and STIs with no significant increase in sexual activity. Students provided condoms at their school were able school were able to access them without the awkwardness or cost of buying them at a store or the inconvenience of having to obtain them from a medical professional.
Several school districts in the region, including San Francisco and Oakland Unified School Districts, already provide condoms to students and have seen positive results. Many districts are going even further in the promotion of students’ health, both sexual and otherwise. Berkeley High School has an on-campus health center which, in addition to providing contraceptives, also offers students basic primary care and referrals for health needs including for sexual health.
Safeguarding the health of students is a paramount responsibility of any school. This responsibility applies to students’ sexual health as well. Both PAUSD high schools should take the basic but impactful step of providing safe-sex products to students.