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Condoms will soon be available at Lawrence high schools

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LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Lawrence high schools are being proactive about prophylactics.

Students attending public high schools in Lawrence will soon have access to free condoms at school. They will be accessible in the school nurse's office.

The health department said this is one of the first districts in the state of Kansas making condoms available to high school students.

“There is a stigma with purchasing condoms, I think it can be kind of embarrassing,” says Vanessa Sanburn, a school board member.

Sanburn said she supports the district’s sexuality education program providing condoms to Lawrence high school students.

“The latest CDC survey reports that 28 percent of high school students in the state of Kansas are currently sexually active, and we know that 43 percent of those students did not use a condom during their last sexual encounter,” said Michael Showalter, the Health Promotions Specialist at the Lawrence Douglas County Health Department. “We just wanted to make it easier for students who are already sexually active to have access to those condoms.”

Sidney Patrick, a junior at Free State High School, said she thinks it could help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections and prevent unwanted pregnancy.

The latest reports show teen pregnancy has reached historic lows every year since 2009, and two-thirds lower than the teen pregnancy rate in 1991.

“A lot of kids that I know don't have the resources to be able to go and get that, so I feel like they're just going to be there already for them, I feel like it can help that,” Patrick said.

But Patrick said this move might give some students the green light to have sex early on.

“I know a lot of kids at this school, and I know their actions. I'm not saying they're bad, but I'm just saying I feel like this wouldn't go the right way,” Patrick added.

But Showalter said there is no research to suggest that access to condoms increases sexual activity.

The condoms aren't available yet, but they will be in high schools starting at the end of October.

The Lawrence-Douglass County Health Department said the response from parents and staff has been very positive, and wants to reiterate that there is no link between condom availability and sexual activity.