General Articles

Massachusetts: Condoms in the Middle – Springfield Expands Condom Availability

After recommendations from the Springfield School Committee to address the STD risks faced by sexually active students, the district is preparing to implement an expanded condom availability program that will include students as young as twelve. Parental opt-out will be part of the initiative, so that parents who do not want their children to have access to condoms can be assured that none will be provided if those particular students request them.

Sexual health data on Springfield youth indicate that over 1 in 4 twelve-year-olds are already sexually active, as are half of all ninth grade students.[1]

Some parents have opposed the new policy and invoked parental responsibility as the missing ingredient: in the view of parent Joanna Mercado, “I don't think it's [the school’s] job to be doing it. That's my job to be doing it…They should figure out another way to do this to stop it so the school doesn't have to pass them out, and the parents can step-up and do their job.”  Other parents, such as Daphne MacDonald, confuse condom availability with the mistaken notion that the school system will actively ‘issue’ condoms to each student: "When they issue a condom to these young kids, boys, they're going to go after the girl because the first thing they're going to say is: 'Oh, they gave us condoms–it's O.K. to have sex.'; and I think that's wrong.”[2]

In contrast, Melissa Hedeen, a parent from Chicopee, supports the expansion of condom availability: “I think it’s a good idea. It would definitely prevent pregnancies and STD's. I would rather that then (sic) something more serious.”[3]

Under the policy, school nurses at the middle and high schools and all school-based health clinics will be authorized to provide condoms to eligible students upon request. The policy states that “School nurses will educate eligible students on abstinence, faithfulness, STI/HIV, pregnancy, and storage and usage of condoms…Eligible students will be able to ask questions which will be answered factually and in an age-appropriate manner.”[4] Eligible students may request one condom per visit to the school nurse, but there is no limit on the number of visits.

[1]Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy fact sheet, “Facts: Springfield,” 2011, accessed 30 August 2012, <>.

[2] Nicole Nalepa, “Springfield School Condom Policy to Take Effect Soon,”, 20 August 2012, accessed 30 August 2012, <>.


[4] Peter Goonan, “Condom Access Policy to be Detailed by Springfield School District,”, 18 August 2012, accessed 30 August 2012, <>.