By: Alexis Kominos, JT Shatzer, Zach Kersh, and Jessica Lipman
Imagine going into your school’s nurse’s office to get a condom. Will you be judged? Are they right to give out these condoms? We have put these questions to the test.
The Howard County Public School System has decided to provide condoms from the nurses office to students in order to advocate for safe sex and provide necessary information about contracting sexually transmitted diseases. The use of condoms if you are sexually active is key to preventing life-changing STDs and unexpected teenage pregnancies.
Senior reporter Griffin Hayden decided to find out what would happen if he asked the school nurses for a condom, and ventured into the nurse’s office to do so. Hayden came back from the office and handed us what the nurses gave him. On the table was a small brown bag with the following included: a dozen condoms, a paper regarding a website link for teen questions, a brochure with directions on how to put the condom on, and a tiny card informing us about sexually transmitted diseases. We did not expect the amount of items that were given to us. Abby Gillespie, a Junior. At Glenelg High school claims, “Yes it was smart of them to do that. Some kids might be scared to go in a store and buy them. So if it is in the school given free by the trusted nurses, more people will be safe.”
Hayden claims that he walked in and promptly said, “Hi, could I have a condom?” The nurse asked no questions, and did not say anything. She unlocked a closet with premade bags with all the items inside. “The experience was a little embarrassing, but quite easy,” Hayden stated. “They stopped and stared at me for a couple of seconds, but other than that it was fine.” Hayden’s experience was more comfortable than expected which should make students feel more comfortable to ask their school nurse for condoms. With the Howard County Public School System deciding to provide condoms in the nurse’s office for students, nurses are attempting to provide a comfortable environment for students in order for teenagers to practice safe sex.
Condoms are provided, however, they do not provide equal benefits to all students. Some students are allergic to latex, which is the form of condoms provided by Glenelg. The ignorance of this condition can lead to unwanted pregnancies due to inabilities to use the condoms provided such as size or material. To eliminate this problem, schools should look into distributing condoms of a variety of sizes and materials. Gillian Marx, a Senior at Glenelg High School allergic to latex explains, “Non-latex condoms are more susceptible to breaking but since lots of students are allergic, I think the school should provide different types of condoms as well.” Clearly, the school needs to address the discrimination they are unaware of related to different condom users.
The correct use of condoms is important. The brochure on condom “do’s and don’ts” is very specific. The “do’s” include information such as, “Read the package or make sure there are no tears or defects”. The “don’ts” say things like, “Do not reuse a condom or store them in your wallet.” Again, knowing how to properly use a condom can prevent unwanted teen pregnancies and the transmission of some STIs by genital fluids. However, there are still a multitude of STDs that condoms do not protect against, such as herpes and genital warts. All of this information is present on the brochure that Hayden received.
Additionally, when questioned about the potential misuse of condoms in Howard County, Glenelg Principal David Burton said, “Sexually transmitted diseases are spreading at an alarming rate in Howard County. Condoms are vital for safe sex, and should be taken seriously, especially by teens who are not prepared to be a parent. They should not be used as an immature joke.” Clearly, immaturity of students ruin the true message and purpose of condoms in general. Unfortunately, there is always a small group that completely ruins it for everyone else.
Howard County attempted to do something positive for students by not only handing out condoms, but also providing important information to go along with them. However, many Glenelg students in the past few weeks went to get the condoms as a joke, then posted pictures of them on social media for laughs. Other students blew the condoms up with air and left them in our student bathrooms. Principal Burton explained his opinion about these occurrences by stating, “I am a little torn because the reason we’re doing it is good. However, the immaturity of many students has been made aware to our administration,” Burton continued to explain his concern by saying, “It is all about maturity level, and I am not sure if everyone gets the purpose of the condoms. Unfortunately, they have turned into pranks and playing around.” Many students also agree with Burton’s views on the immaturity of students as Sophomore Trey Fleece states, “It sucks how the school tried to do something good for students and immature kids just ruin it for everyone.” It is certain that, because of the immature decisions of Glenelg students, the school system is questioning whether or not the addition of condoms to the nurse’s office was a good idea.
A week after Hayden entered the nurse’s office and our school bathrooms were littered with condoms, Glenelg Reporters Jessica Lipman and Alexis Kominos then went to the nurse's office to see if the nurses were still giving them out. When the girls asked the nurses, they widened their eyes and stared at Lipman and Kominos for many seconds. They then simply gestured at a small table in the office, and coldly said, “They are by the door”. Kominos and Lipman grabbed a brown paper bag that were amongst others, but it appeared as though the office was running out. Sure enough, the girls received news that the nurses were completely out of condoms within the next few days. Conclusively, many people have utilized the opportunity to obtain condoms from the nurses, but mostly for the wrong reasons.
With the nurses being less open to the idea of giving out condoms, the students comfortability with asking for them will diminish. The nurses should not assume students are receiving condoms for immature reasons, rather, be inviting to students in need of protection.
Sexually transmitted diseases are a daunting problem for many teenagers, along with the scare and risk of having an unwanted pregnancy. Howard County Public Schools made the decision to give out free condoms to students in order to combat these problems. The hope was for people to learn more about the risks of unprotected sex, and to become more responsible, but the effect of the condom distribution took a turn. The immaturity of many students caused the condoms to run out, and be used in ways that are not for the true and responsible intent. In order to be safe, prevent diseases, and pregnancies, students need to utilize condoms correctly.