Mayor Defends CPS Condom Distribution for 24 High Schools

By Ted Cox on March 19, 2014 5:41pm | Updated on March 19, 2014 6:50pm

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  Mayor Rahm Emanuel backs a federally funded pilot program for sex education Wednesday that will include condom distribution at 24 CPS high schools this fall, but emphasized personal and parental responsibility as part of the equation.
CPS Condom Distribution for 24 High Schools Defended by Mayor
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ENGLEWOOD — Mayor Rahm Emanuel backed a federally funded pilot program for sex education Wednesday that will include condom distribution at 24 CPS high schools this fall, but emphasized personal and parental responsibility as part of the equation.

"Yes, I support it," Emanuel said at a news conference in Englewood. "That doesn't absolve a parent from talking about it with their child about responsibility, behavior and respect."

The list of high schools where condoms would be distributed was still being formulated, a CPS spokeswoman said.

The subject came up earlier in the day in a City Council joint meeting of the Education and Health committees. Dr. Stephanie Whyte, the chief health officer for Chicago Public Schools, said a survey showed 52 percent of the district's high schoolers were sexually active, but only 64 percent of them had used a condom in the last month. According to Whyte's figures, 18 percent had had four or more sexual partners.

According to a Chicago Department of Public Health presentation last year on the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, Chicago received $20 million in federal funds in 2010 for a five-year program aimed at the problem, to be administered by the department and CPS.

Part of the campaign was the "unexpected" transit posters put out last year by the department featuring images of pregnant teenage boys.

The campaign also promotes condom use through "Love the Glove" posters and "Be Safe, Chicago" posters that depict condoms on the "Cloud Gate" bean sculpture in Millennium Park and on a Chicago Transit Authority train.

According to the teen pregnancy report, in CPS' involvement "abstinence is emphasized, but information about contraception is also included." Parents would be given the opportunity to allow their children to "opt out."

The federal program also mandated a condom-distribution pilot program at six CPS high schools this year and 24 before the program's five-year term expires in 2015. According to Department of Public Health spokesman Brian Richardson, it was actually put in two high schools this school year. CPS spokeswoman Lauren Huffman named Collins and Foreman as the two schools that already are in the program.

Whyte said condom distribution would begin at 24 high schools this fall.

Some aldermen seemed squeamish Wednesday about the pilot program and worried it might appear to "condone" teen sex.

Emanuel said Wednesday he fully supported the pilot program for condom distribution, but also emphasized "responsible behavior, respecting who you're with and doing what's right, not what's convenient."

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