Condom program begins in Rochester city high schools

Posted at: 02/25/2013 6:58 AM
Updated at: 02/25/2013 5:46 PM
By: Ray Levato

Monday was the first day of the city school district’s free condom program to fight sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy. Students are being allowed to ask for up to ten per day.
By about 2:30p.m, School of the Arts officials said three students came in Monday asking for condoms.
All were boys. But the school nurse said she expected more students to show up including girls.

Christine Proctor, registered nurse at School of the Arts, said, “I had three come in today, and it went very well.”

Christine Proctor is the school nurse at School of the Arts.

Proctor said, “Today it was how many condoms can you give out, Miss Proctor? I told them that I wanted them to come in my office and sit down so we could discuss what's going on and why they felt they needed 10 condoms. Most were just laughing about the number. They didn't really want ten condoms. They just wanted to hear if it was true if I could give ten condoms out.”

Then later, in her office,  News10NBC asked the Proctor what she told students who came to ask for the condoms.

Proctor said, “I explained to them how to use condoms effectively and then walk through steps to avoid STDs, abstinence. And obviously if they're coming for a condom, they did not choose that method. But I just try to educate them about the risks.”

After school, News10NBC spoke with School of the Arts junior Gretchen Schantz.

Gretchen Schantz, School of the Arts student, said, “I think it's better than not. Instead of just leaving them out to dry and not teaching them anything, not preparing them at all.”
News10NBC's Ray Levato said, “Have you had this conversation with your  parents?”

Schantz said, “Briefly, yeah.

Levato: “What do they say?”

Schantz said, “Pretty much the same as me. They respect it. They respect the effort.”

Parents at School of the Arts have to sign a form to opt out of the free condom program and so far 19 have opted out of nearly 1,000 letters that were sent out in grades 9-12. The nurse said she expected more to be sent back. One parent waiting for her daughter said she was okay with the condom giveaway.

Eileen Wrona said, “I think it's a good thing. Anytime you have students and your children that have to make tough decisions. If they're making the right decision, whether that's abstinence or using condoms or whatever their choice is, I think it's a good thing.”

News10NBC found it surprising that among the many teens we talked with outside School of the Arts Monday afternoon, many of them had not even heard about the free condoms.
If you, as a parent, want to get more information on this program and talk with your kids, here's a copy of this form.

The city has a very high rate of sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy. Dr. Andrew Doniger, Monroe County Health Director, says their role only was to prevent the data on increased STDs and teen pregnancy. Beyond that, the school district formed committees, reviewed other such programs, held hearings and got approval from the New York State Health Department. The local health department was not involved with selecting the number of 10 condoms a day. The district chose that number from a similar program in New York City.