Chicago’s policy to provide free condoms to 5th grade students triggers debate

Public schools in the US state of Chicago are expected to open in autumn and the students will have a surprise waiting for them — menstruation products and condoms.

Under the new Chicago Public Schools (CPS) policy, classes of fifth standard and above will be required to carry out a condom availability program, in view of educating children while also safeguarding them from unwanted pregnancies and serious illnesses such as HIV AIDS.

The idea of the now implemented policy was years in the making, and although it received some controversy, lawmakers believe it is a step in the right direction.

“Young people have the right to accurate and clear information to make healthy decisions,” said Kenneth Fox, a CPS doctor and a pediatrician for 30 years, told Chicago Sun-Times.

The policy so far has been that school principals decide on such matters related to sexual health and education. That changes with the new rules from this autumn.

The move has sparked a debate among parents. ‘Giving out condoms in 5th grade is ridiculous,’ Kim Barber said.

‘I’m all for realistic sex education in public schools, but fifth graders are 10 and 11 years old. What is being taught?,’ Kylee Alexander asked.

There are over 600 schools in the Chicago Public Schools system, most of which have grade levels of fifth or higher.

Elementary schools will receive 250 condoms initially from the Chicago Department of Public Health, while high schools will receive 1,000.

When they run out, principals will be tasked with asking for more from CPS and the CDPH (Chicago Department of Public Health).

Principals will receive guidance on how to go about storing them and operating the program. Condoms will be made available to students in an accessible area, but not too out in the open so that students have at least some privacy.