Mom debate: Is a condom costume appropriate for high school?

Florida senior Jack Englund dressed as Trojan Man for “character day” at Dr. Phillips High School. Although the teen had support from his parents and says he just wanted to spread safe sex awareness, he was ordered to take his costume off. Was his costume clever or crass? Two of our Parenting writers sound off on the issue.

Bethany Ramos: High school should apologize to Trojan Man

I know what you’re thinking — at first glance, a headline about a teen boy wearing a Trojan Man costume to school sounds atrocious. Until you read on to find out the Trojan Man costume was worn on a Florida school’s “character day” in an attempt to spread a safe sex message. 17-year-old Jack Englund was told to remove the inappropriate homemade condom costume, complete with a cape and blue Trojan poster board sign hung around his neck. I like his style.

If this wonky costume was worn any other day of the week, I could see where the school was coming from. It would be a potential violation of dress code. But it was “character day.” And even if Jack’s message was tongue in cheek and totally typical for a teen boy, it was still sex-positive. Good for him.

Fortunately Jack’s mother wasn’t a tight-ass about the whole ordeal, and I’m with her 100 percent. Sandy Englund, a lawyer, points out the crux of the issue: The school is overreacting. Jack is a teenage high school student who will be attending college next year. High schoolers are likely to see much worse on the internet. How are schools going to provide adequate sex education if “Trojan” is that offensive?

Michelle Maffei: Leave the condom costumes at home

Who does student Jack Englund think he’s fooling? We weren’t born yesterday; he clearly wore the Trojan Man costume to get a rise. While I applaud his ploy to hide behind the safe sex message, I highly doubt that was his honest intention.

I don’t consider myself a prude whatsoever, but when it comes to my kids, I won’t be encouraging underage kids to hook up under my roof or encouraging other people’s kids to have sex, safe or not. But by his parents rallying behind Englund to parade his sexual message around campus, these parents are getting involved in a discussion that should be between me and my teens or the school faculty and the student body.

Look, the topic of teen sex isn’t new. And while abstinence is best, I’m all about encouraging kids to practice safe sex. But when it comes to teen sex, we all owe it to ourselves to at least acknowledge that it’s a fine line between each side of this debate. Leave costumes of condom packages, T-shirts about virginity and “all the cool girls are lesbians” attire at home. There are better ways to raise student awareness about safe sex and abstinence than to let teens take matters into their own hands.

More on sex education

Should you give your teen birth control?
Abstinence-only sex education is a joke
Is sex education going too far?