BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Buffalo School Board approved a plan Wednesday night that will allow high school nurses to provide condoms to students.
A standardized sexual education curriculum will begin in September for students in grades 9-12. All students must complete the class before they can get condoms from the nurse, starting in January.
School leaders who approved the plan have said it’s all about promoting student safety, and will be implemented as part of a wider education plan.
“Abstinence is a major focus,” said Assuntra Ventresca, director of Health Related Services at BPS. “Only school nurses will have condoms available in the clinic. It’s only for high school students and parents can opt out of this.”
DOCUMENT | Click here to see the opt-out form.
In the months of meetings and hearings leading up to this week’s vote, a number of parents have told News 4 they are unhappy with the policy.
“Giving my child a condom in school is telling my child it’s okay to go do what you want to do without your parent,” said a parent during a hearing on the proposal earlier this year.
Others told News 4, they agree with the new policy.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Nicole Feliz, who graduated from Buffalo Public Schools. “I feel they go to school everyday, they’ll get educated on it and know more about it.”
School district leaders say it’s all about the numbers. The latest statistics show 44 percent of Buffalo high schoolers said they have had sex, and of those, 35 percent said they had not used protection the last time they did.
“We have the highest pregnancy rate in the state among our teens,” Assuntra Ventresca, director of Health Related Services at BPS, said. “We identify over 200 students annually that are pregnant.”
Parents will be able to fill out a form to prevent their children from getting condoms. They can also opt children out of the sexual education class, if they disagree with the new policy.
School officials told News 4 teaching young people to protect themselves, preventing unwanted pregnancies and STDs, is an important community issue.
“When we really look at sexual education, it’s now just about sex, it’s about relationship building,” said Ventresca. “It’s about how to treat other people, how to say no, how to build skills. It’s a very skill based program.”