Before we start talking about a thin, latex tube, in use since the 1800’s – originally sold “for the prevention of disease only” – let’s talk about life-changing events. And at the top of that list – right after death – is pregnancy; or even more traumatic – unwanted pregnancy.

It is clear to me after working with young women for years that unwanted pregnancy is an awful thing for a teen-aged girl – and her partner (casual or not) – to face. It can completely derail any life plans and forces steps to be taken – like abortion (which is not “a day at the beach”), adoption (which is almost as bad, believe me) and the worst of all – telling your already stressed-out parents. To prevent such terrible events is of paramount importance and the high school should assume a positive, helpful position – shouldn’t it?

But then you say – “They should just not have sex at all.” Right – and birds shouldn’t fly. They do have sex, they will have sex and they want to. Not all of them, but a lot of them – and more of them when they get to be older teenagers. And those who aren’t doing it are thinking about it – a lot. And you adults: try to remember what you were like as a teenager – just for a minute. The expansion of sexual activity over the last few generations means that it can lead quickly, easily, silently to procreation. There is more use of birth control – by both girls and boys – but easy availability of condoms is crucial because often they need to be used instantly – when the reasoning is overwhelmed by the urge.

Of course putting condom dispensers in the bathrooms – both boys’ AND girls’ is just a small step for mankind. But it is an important step and railing against it is just medieval. Also, the argument that it encourages sex is wrong-headed. The young are already encouraged – by their friends, movies, TV, porn, advertising for most everything. So let’s wake up a little bit and help out teenagers with their actual lives, not the ones we think they should be leading. On a historical note: I was brought up Catholic in Connecticut where – in the Fifties – condoms were illegal, not even sold in drug stores. The first condoms I even saw (and of course carried in my wallet unused for months until the wrapper wore through) were in bathroom dispensers in gas stations out west when I travelled there as a boy scout. New England is a pretty repressive place – in case you didn’t know that. But that is worth another column.

My own personal experience regarding this issue forces me to support any measure to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Condoms in the bathrooms is a no-brainer.

Editor’s note: The Broadside Staff welcomes responses by HHS students to this opinion piece. Responses do not have to be long, just thoughtful.

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