Vermont has become the first state to require all public middle and high schools to provide students with access to free condoms.
Condoms are now required by law to be "readily accessible" to public school students in grades 7 through 12 in a safe location set by school administrators and nursing staff. The bill was first introduced by Rep. Topper McFaun, signed into law by Gov. Phil Scott last year, and recently completed rollout.
"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.
An anonymous 2019 Vermont Youth Risk Survey, distributed to middle and high school students, revealed that 40% of high school students have had sexual intercourse and approximately half are using condoms. And only 7.2% of high schools and about 2% of middle schools in the U.S. made condoms available to students, according to 2014 data from the CDC.
"Middle and high schools have a responsibility to encourage their students, their young people, to advocate for themselves, to ask questions, to clarify confusion," Amanda Spencer, a counselor at Winooski Middle School, told NBC5.
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"I think perhaps Representative McFaun has good intentions," Toborg told Vermont Public Radio. "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."
The condoms will be provided by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. Along with accessibility to the condoms, schools will be required to provide students with information about proper use, inclusive of gender identity, sexuality, and ethnicity.
Per the program's new guidance, schools will also provide comprehensive sex education as required by state law and regulations of the State Board of Education.