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Connecticut: Condom Availability Coming to New Britain?

Connecticut’s Consolidated School District of New Britain 1 has made national headlines as their school board considers authorizing a nonprofit community health center in the area to launch a high school condom availability program. Pathways-Senderos Health Center, which focuses on teen pregnancy prevention, believes that providing condoms in New Britain High school may aid in lowering the high adolescent pregnancy rate. However, the majority of the school board has rejected similar measures twice in the past stating that it would go against its abstinence-based sex education policy.

Although Connecticut has consistently boasted one of the lowest adolescent pregnancy rates in the country (currently 57 pregnancies per 1,000 females aged 15-19, compared to 70 for the entire U.S.) 2, New Britain has had the second highest adolescent pregnancy rate in the state and the highest rate of teens having more than one child. 3 New Britain High School reported 42 pregnancies in 2010, 31 pregnancies in 2011, and in 2012 there are 14 pregnant students and two students who are already mothers. 4

In response to the high need for sexual and reproductive health and services, Pathways-Senderos Center offers an out-of-school-time program for teens that stresses abstinence but also educates about reproductive health care and the location of family planning centers, promotes educational success, and makes free condoms available. Roseann Bilodeau, the director of the center, believes that “it’s in everyone’s best interest for young people to have affordable easy access to birth control, easy access to condoms…Condoms, that is just a little part of it. I think all kids need that.” Pathways-Senderos has had a high success rate, with hundreds of adolescents graduating the program and only three becoming pregnant. Because not every student can attend the program, Bilodeau firmly believes reaching out to teens while they are in school is a necessary approach. 5

At least one New Britain school board member vocally opposes the condom availability initiative: “I’m definitely against it. We would be promoting sex. There are many organizations in the city that give condoms away; we do not need the high school being one of them” argued James Sanders Sr. Supporters on the board, such as Aram Ayalon, argue that the school district “has one of the highest teenage pregnancy levels in the state…Having condoms available does not say we are promoting sexual activity. It is for students who are already sexually active … it’s a no brainer.” 6 A third vote by the school board is forthcoming.

1Consolidated School District of New Britain, CT web site, accessed 24 September 2012, <>.

2Kost K, Henshaw S and Carlin L, U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity, 2010, accessed 24 September 2012, <>.

3“Vote on Condoms for New Britain High School Teens,” News 8, 15 September 2012, accessed 21 September 2012, <>.

4 WFSB Staff, “Controversy over Giving Teens Condoms at New Britain High School, ” Eyewitness News 3, 17 September 2012, accessed 21 September 2012, <>.

5Jamie Muro, “School Caught in Condom Controversy,” News 8, 17 September 2012, accessed 21 September 2012, <>.

6Robert Storace, “School Board Divided on Issue of Distribution of Condoms to NBHS Students,” New Britain Herald, 14 September 2012, accessed 24 September 2012. <>.