The Gervais Oregon School Board has voted to allow teachers in the district's middle and high school to pass out condoms. The move comes after nearly five percent of the district's 6th to 12th graders became pregnant last year, reports KGW.com.
Gervais is a small town north of Salem, the state's capital. It has a population of 2,500.
While proponents laud this as a great move by Gervais school leaders, an analysis of condom distribution in schools by the Guttmacher Institute raises concerns about the long-term efficacy of such programs, particularly if supportive personnel leave the district. The study reports on a South Carolina district where a concerted community response to unintended pregnancies resulted in condom distribution, access to family planning services and more. Sadly, after a few years, the program lost many of the leading staff members, and pregnancy rates returned to pre-program levels.
Of course, we know that condoms will not only impact unintended pregnancies, but can reduce incidents of various sexually transmitted infections as well. In 2013, Oregon reported 3,110 cases of chlamydia among 15-19 year olds. The state also reported 96 cases of gonorrhea among that same age group that year, and in the last four quarters, the state has reported three new HIV-positive tests among 13-19 year olds — although none of them were identified in Marion County, where Gervais is located.