The policy (pdf), which was approved by the board of education but wasn’t fully implemented due to school closures, requires every school teaching “grade fifth and up” to have a “condom availability program.” There are currently over 600 schools in the CPS system, most of which serve students in fifth grade and older.
Each elementary school will receive 250 condoms initially, while high schools will receive 1,000, according to Chicago Sun-Times. When a school runs out of condoms, principals will be responsible for asking the school district and the city’s health department for a restock.
“Condoms are provided at no cost by the Chicago Department of Public Health in an ongoing effort to mitigate the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection, and unintended pregnancy among CPS students,” the school district explained.
The CPS also noted that the policy is “medically accurate,” “culturally, developmentally, and age appropriate,” and “guided by anti-racist pedagogy,” although it is not immediately clear how the availability of free condoms among middle school students helps mitigate racism.
Similarly, the policy also requires schools to make female menstrual hygiene products available for free in at least one bathroom in the school building.
Kenneth Fox, a veteran pediatrician and the top health official at the CPS, said in an interview with Chicago Sun-Times that students, despite their young age, have the right to make healthy decisions and need resources to protect their health and the health of others.
“When you don’t have those protections and don’t make those resources available then bad stuff happens to young people,” Fox said. “You have elevated risks of sexually transmitted infections, of unintended pregnancies, and that’s very preventable stuff.”
“I would expect that not everybody is going to be completely on board right from the start, but I do think society has changed,” he added.
The plan, which is set to be enacted next month when the CPS fully reopens all its schools, has left some parents confused.
“They are 10 years old, 11, 12. They are kids. So why is CPS thinking about providing condoms?” Maria Serrano, a parent whose daughter is a sophomore, told Chicago Sun-Times. “Why not provide them information, and at the end give them the resource of a condom when they are prepared to use those resources they want to provide.”