Proposed condom program for city schools

Mar 6, 2015

The Buffalo Public School District continues to collect feedback on a proposed condom program for city schools. WBFO'S Focus on Education reporter Eileen Buckley attended a session at South Park High School where only about a dozen parents and community members attended.

Buffalo Public Schools considering a proposed condom program.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"If they've made the decision to have sex -- they are going to have sex, and I'm talking from a teen parent -- I was a teen parent," said Estella Johnson.

Johnson said she is a realist when it comes to teens and sex. "My mother told me until she was blue in the face, don't have sex, don't do it," said Johnson.

Statistics of teens having sex in the Buffalo Public School District from a 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Study.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The city district is considering a Condom Availability Program similar to one implemented in the Rochester City School District. It would provide an opt-out that parents would sign before the school year begins. 

Assunta Ventresca, Director of Health Services in the city school district, discusses the program at South Park High School Thursday.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"There was one person who didn't like the idea of the opting-out, they want to opt-in. They want to say I give permission to do it," said Assunta Ventresca, Director of Health Services in the city school district. She said it is not just about having sex.

"It reduces risk and that's our focus -- reducing sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies," said Ventresca.

This plan would require students to take a sexual education class before they would receive condoms from the school nurse. 

But one Buffalo school parent, who did not want to give his name, spoke out against the program.

"They want to promiscuously, they want to get pregnant, because it puts them on the system," said the parent. "We could be sitting here on a mound of condoms and I would go around throwing them out rather than the $40,000.00 you spent on a study." 

Parents & community members were broken down into groups of where they stood on the issue.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The District conducted risky behavior surveys with students finding 44-percent of city high school students were having sex, but 35-percent were not using condoms.  Ventresca said the district will conduct another Youth Risk Behavior Survey in October.

One more public session will be held March 12th at the Merriweather Library on Jefferson Avenue on the city's east side. 

All the public feedback will be brought to the school board in May for a final vote.