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Are middle schoolers old enough to get condoms in school?

Avital Norman Nathman is a freelance writer whose work places a feminist lens on a variety of topics, including motherhood, maternal health, gender, and reproductive rights. Her work has been featured in Bitch magazine, Cosmopolitan.com,...

Parents outraged by schools' plan to give condoms to kids

Parents in San Francisco are up in arms after learning that local middle schools are now allowed to dole out condoms to students without parental consent. The San Francisco Board of Education recently approved a resolution that would expand its Condom Availability Program to middle schools in the district.

Some parents are making their outrage known, lambasting the Board of Ed for providing condoms to children whom they feel are way too young, particularly without parental consent. Middle school, which usually spans ages 10 to 12, may feel too young to some people, but let's get realistic for a moment and look at this situation logically.

More: 16 recent grads share what kids really learn in sex ed class

The schools are not simply handing out the condoms to every middle schooler as they enter their classrooms. Nor are they including them on their lunch trays alongside milk cartons and mystery meat. No. The condoms will be available in the nurse's office for any student who wants them. That means the student has to physically make their way to the nurse's office, and then — in front of said nurse — grab some condoms from a bowl.

We're not sure if you've met middle schoolers, but it's a good guess that this new ruling will result in a few different scenarios:

Scenario #1: A bunch of kids think this is hilarious and take turns going in and getting condoms. Some will succeed, but most will run out of the nurse's office empty-handed and dying of embarrassment. Of the kids who do make it out with a handful of prophylactics, odds are that none of them will actually be used during sex but will end up being slipped into the backpacks or books of friends as a "hilarious" joke or made into gross, slippery water balloons.

Scenario #2: A student who might be contemplating sex but is too nervous or embarrassed to speak with a trusted adult will know that they're available at school but will still be too nervous and embarrassed to go and pick some up. Either the student decides to not have sex without protection, or they go ahead and have sex anyway, possibly resulting in an STI or pregnancy.

Scenario #3: A student who is contemplating having sex goes and actually takes a few condoms. He or she then uses said condoms, preventing any unplanned pregnancies and unwanted STIs.

More: I bought my son condoms

According to Advocates for Youth, 6 percent of all high school students have had sex before the age of 13. So the odds of the first scenario are way higher than the other two. However, that doesn't mean we need to discount the fact that there are some middle schoolers who are having sex. And most likely these youngsters aren't being open and honest about it with their parents to the point where they can ask to be driven to the nearest drugstore to pick up some condoms. So why not have them available at school?

Many people get it in their heads that if condoms are available (or if we teach sex ed), then this allows kids to think they have the green light to go out and have all the sex in the world. That's just preposterous and in actuality the furthest thing from the truth. Multiple studies have shown that comprehensive sexual education (that accompanies all the schools that "dole out" condoms) actually delays the onset of sexual activity in young adults. Let's repeat that for those in the back row shaking their heads: Comprehensive sex ed does not actually increase the rates of teens having sex and, in fact, even delays the onset of sexual activity.

More: Middle school sex education is actually working

Talking about sex with our kids is hard and awkward and uncomfortable. But that doesn't mean our discomfort should come before their health and safety. So kudos to the San Francisco Board of Education for providing education and protection for our children.

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