A new bill in California is aiming to ensure free condoms are available for high school students.
State Sen. Caroline Menjivar introduced Senate Bill 541 to the legislature last month with the aim of increasing youth access to contraceptives.
The bill will be brought before the Senate Education Committee next week.
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Senate Bill 541 would require schools to offer condoms in at least two different locations and provide information on proper use without necessitating students to request them from an adult.
“What we’re asking the schools to do is to provide condoms in two different locations throughout their campus, and not where a student will have to go to a teacher, an administrator to ask for them,” said Menjivar.
Menjivar said she is “trying to remove the shame” of asking for contraceptives, saying the pressure of the situation often drives students to forgo condoms entirely.
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“We want to make sure they have all the facts and all the resources available at their fingertips to make a safe decision,” Menjivar added.
Conservative advocacy group California Family Council condemned the proposition, saying, “California public schools have been pushing condoms as part of ‘comprehensive sex education’ for more than a decade in the name of improving student health. But it’s been a complete failure if you look at the rates of sexually transmitted infections.”
The council pointed to the California Department of Public Health’s findings that sexually transmitted infections have reached “epidemic levels” in the state and asserted that students need to be taught to “treat sex as a special and intimate act to be shared in a monogamous committed relationship with someone of the opposite sex.”
The bill aims to put the program into effect by the 2024-2025 school year.
The bill would also provide free access to the HPV vaccine at state-funded Family Planning, Access, Care, and Treatment.