- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The school system in Provincetown, Mass., will trim back a policy that would have given all district students access to free condoms, regardless of age.

Superintendent Beth Singer sent an e-mail to parents on Tuesday that said the district will clarify that elementary-school students will not be able to request a free condom from the school nurse.

The school board unanimously approved on June 8 a policy to provide free condoms to all students without parental notification. A student who requests a condom is required to speak with a school nurse or counselor beforehand, but school officials are not allowed to inform the parents.

The initial policy did not set any age limit.

Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, called the policy “absurd” and said it promoted “sexual promiscuity.”

“It was absolutely unwarranted, bordering along child abuse and a total abnegation of parental rights,” he told The Washington Times on Wednesday.

After the school board’s June 8 vote, Pete Grosso, chairman of the health advisory committee, told the Cape Cod Times that the decision to provide free condoms was a necessary step for protecting students for sexually transmitted diseases.

Mr. Grosso also defended the lack of a minimum age, saying school officials can’t know when students are starting to have sex.

“The thing is, sexual activity starts younger and younger,” he said. “We don’t know what age that is. So we just said, ‘We’ll make it available to all of them.’ We don’t want to pick an age, and I really don’t believe we’re going to get first-graders asking for a condom, as a practical manner.”

At first, there was no objection to the policy. It wasn’t until two days after the vote that the media began to take notice. Soon, national media outlets were reporting the story, and the school board started receiving calls as far away as California and from Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, objecting to the decision.

The parts of the e-mail that have been made public by New England media Wednesday did not specify what the minimum age or grade level would be.

Until the details are ironed out, Mr. Mineau said, “we are waiting to see what the new, revised policy will say.”

The school committee is looking to meet July 13 to detail the policy for students requesting condoms, according to the Cape Cod Times. The policy will then take effect in September.