After it was revealed that 5 percent of teens in Philadelphia have STDs, the city has decided to place free condom dispensers in roughly a third of its high schools. The 22 schools selected were the ones with the highest STD rates:
"We believe distributing condoms is part of our obligation to keep students healthy and to remain healthy," said school district spokesman Fernando Gallard. "The health department has described this as a continued epidemic of STDs among teenagers in Philadelphia."
Of the 130,000 student who have received testing in the last five years, some 6,500 or 5 percent of them have tested positive for diseases including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Condoms will be available to all students, unless their parents sign "opt out" forms. However, these forms will not be enforced by the school or its nurses:
"Opt-out letters are to be maintained by the school office," Assistant Superintendent Dennis W. Creedon wrote. "Students are to honor the wishes of their parents. If a student disrespects their guardian's directive, that is an issue of the home."
The decision has gained support from city leaders, including Mayor Michael Nutter.