NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — There is a condom controversy at a Brooklyn high school. On prom night, administrators are planning on handing out free condoms to students.
Condoms might be considered commonplace in New York City high schools — just last year 680,000 were distributed to students — but a principal’s plan to make them available at the prom on June 7 is raising some eyebrows.
Late Friday came word that Bedford Stuyvesant Preparatory Principal Darryl Rascoe may be re-thinking his stance, but he had yet to announce a change of heart on the hot-button issue publicly.
Jarel Nicholson, a senior at the school, said he didn’t know about his principal’s plan, but agrees with it to an extent.
“I think safe sex is the best sex,” Nicholson told CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock.
NV Healthcare, a Long Island based manufacturer, has offered free condoms to high school proms across the state, but Bedford-Stuyvesant Prep is the only one to accept the offer so far, according to several reports.
NuVo Condoms (credit: NV Healthcare)
Ben Isaacs, vice president of NV Healthcare, said distributing condoms does not promote sex, it provides a safe alternative for teens who choose to be active.
“We don’t condone high school students having sex at all, but the statistics show that 1 in 5 17-year-olds are having sex,” Isaacs said. “We believe if they are going to have sex they should do it safely.”
The National Abstinence Education Association thinks the move will only normalize teen sex and claims nearly 75 percent of 15-17-year-olds have never had sex. Messages, the association said, should affirm these positive decisions and provide reinforcement.
“The typical approach for addressing risk behaviors in teens is to provide information and skills that help them avoid the risk, as opposed to normalizing the behavior. This same protocol should be followed for teen sexual activity,” the NAEA’s Valerie Huber said in a statement.
“We are concerned that the distribution of condoms on school campuses further normalizes teen sex, underestimates the risks associated with sex, and overestimates the protection afforded by condoms. Many teens think that sex is ‘safe’ so long as they use a condom. The research shows this is not true.”
City School Chancellor Dennis Walcott said he also supports the principal’s decision. In addition to distributing condoms, the school also plans a safer-sex program for students in the weeks leading up to prom.
“It’s something he decided is extremely important and I support our principal in doing that,” Walcott said. “We want our teens to abstain from sexual involvement with each other, but at the same time he’s being responsible making condoms available.”
Rascoe wouldn’t speak to CBS 2 on camera, but did say the condoms would be available at prom just as they are the school.
“They are senior students. They have responsibilities, so don’t slip up — use condoms,” a student said.
One mom said distributing the condoms is the responsible thing to do for safety’s sake.
“Think about STDs, teen pregnancy, they just want to have a good time so be protected,” Juliet Rose said.
“My principal was just trying to do something good, but they won’t let him,” senior Damonic Smith said.
In the end, pressure on the principal may be too much, but for now condoms at the prom are the talk of the town in Bed-Stuy.
All NYC high schools are required to have a health resource room where free condoms are available. Parents can choose not to allow their children to use the resource room.
CBS 2 has learned about 2 percent do just that.
Do you approve of the school’s decision? Let us know below…
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)