SAFE SEX: Piedmont School Board Blocks Condom Distribution Project
Piedmont, CA, school board members blocked a high school business class project that would have sold condoms and heightened awareness of HIV/AIDS and other STDs on Piedmont High School's campus. Students Alex DiGiorgio and Soraya Verjee developed a program that would have combined condom sales with a campus-wide safe sex educational campaign, with all proceeds going to an organization that works with AIDS patients. Recognizing that the plan could spark controversy, the students took their proposal to the school board meeting last Wednesday. DiGiorgio told the board, "We realize this is a sensitive issue and we are approaching it with a lot of caution." As part of the proposed educational campaign, Digiorgio said the students had invited a member of the AIDS support and education group Positively Speaking, which recommends abstinence first, to address a full assembly at the launch of the campaign. A member of the organization attended the meeting and urged the board to allow the project to move forward, pointing to statistics that show nearly half of all new HIV infections occur in the 13-21 age group. However, board members voted to block the project, opting instead for a "public dialogue" rather than letting "high school students provide condoms to their peers." Despite the students' assurances that school administrators would have final say regarding the content of the advertising campaign, Piedmont Principal Pamela Bradford and Parents Club spokesperson Lori Zumbrennen maintained that "even a maturely handled condom marketing campaign might inspire crude sexual innuendo on campus." Bradford said, "I can see a condom being used for its real purpose and I can see a condom being shot across a classroom at someone." Although some students advocated the project as a stepping stone for a permanent condom program at school, board members voted to "mull over the concept and come up with school district guidelines at an unspecified future date." School administrators blocked a similar condom distribution proposal in 1995 (Chapman, MediaNews Group, Inc./ANG Newspapers, 11/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.