Students: Let’s talk about sex
An ambitious group of Hub teens get their moment in the spotlight Tuesday, when they pitch to the City Council their long-sought plan to get better sex-ed programs and free condoms in all Boston schools. But a growing number of opponents say not so fast.
“This is important. Our young people want change. They are advocating for this,” said Carla Poulos, an organizer with the Hyde Square Task Force, a group of teens who want to revamp sex education in Hub high schools.
Supporters of a plan to make condoms available in all Boston public high schools and create a sex-ed curriculum plan to pack a City Council hearing Tuesday on the issue.
“Kids are having sex,” said Samantha Brea, a senior at Snowden International School at Copley. “Giving them a condom isn’t increasing their sexual activity. It’s just pushing them to have safer sexual behavior.”
Condoms are available, with parental permission, in nine Boston public high schools that have health centers, said Boston Public Schools spokesman Matt Wilder.
Though Superintendent Carol Johnson is reluctant to expand condom availability, she has created a team to come up with sex-education curriculum and study the issue of condoms in the schools, he said.
“She is hesitant to make condoms available at every high school without any kind of research and safeguards,” he said.
At-large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley said alarming teen pregnancy and STD statistics are driving the conversation. More than half of Boston high schoolers are having sex, and 34 percent had sex before age 14, according to a 2009 study. In addition, more and more teens are testing positive for STDs.
Opponents of wider condom distribution say BPS should focus on abstinence.
“Condom distribution sends the wrong message to students that sexual activity before marriage is normative,” said C.J. Doyle, director of the Catholic Action League, which plans to speak at the hearing.
“Condoms are not the solution,” said Chris Pham, a member of the Boston chapter of Pure In Heart, a Catholic chastity group. “Teens are being misled into believing that they can strap on a condom, have sex with whomever, and be safe.”
The effort is not just about condoms, said Patricia Quinn, director of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy.
Boston schools are sorely lacking consistent, comprehensive sex education, she said.
“It’s school-by-school. That makes it somewhat haphazard in terms of what kind of sex ed you can count on your child getting,” she said.