CPS Expanding Free Condom Program To 24 Schools
Chicago Public Schools and the city’s public health department will be expanding a pilot program to make condoms available to high school students to 24 schools this fall as part of an ongoing effort to combat teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases among young people.
School officials said currently condoms are available at two district schools—Collins High School and Foreman High School.
The district will be working with the Chicago Department of Public Health to identify which 24 schools will get the condoms, but CPS spokeswoman Lauren Huffman said it is ultimately up to each principal to decide whether condoms will be available in their school building.
If a principal decides to make the condoms available, the program will be overseen by a staff member trained in sexual health education who can answer student questions, officials said.
High school students can access the free condoms via dispensers in a location determined by each school.
CPS officials said that under district policy, parents will be notified prior to any sexual health education being provided.
According to a recent city report, Chicago’s teen birth rate decreased 33 percent, but it still remains one of the highest in the nation. Officials say the teen birth rate in Chicago is one and a half times higher than the national average.
The condom distribution program is part of a $20 million federal teen pregnancy prevention grant awarded to CPS.
The condom pilot program came up Wednesday during a presentation by city officials on the city's Action Plan for Healthy Adolescents at a joint meeting of the City Council Health and Education committees.
City Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair said a study shows over half of CPS high school students are sexually active, but only 65 percent of those students use condoms.
"So this is one tool to make sure these students are making educated decisions," Choucair said after the meeting. "And if they would like to have access to condoms we want to make sure they have access to them."
Choucair said it's too early to say whether the condom dispensers will eventually be found in all public high schools. "This is a pilot program, so we're still working out the details," he said after the meeting.
Choucair said city officials will work with LSCs and school principals to try to head off any potential controversy over the program.