(CNSNews.com) - The Boston Public School Committee voted 5-0 Wednesday night to adopt a "wellness policy" that includes making condoms available in high schools.
"This is already the practice in 19 BPS high schools," the committee noted. "The new policy will expand it to all 32."
The new policy says all students should have access to "key resources and services that are developmentally appropriate and support sexual and reproductive health in a safe and supportive environment."
Students who want condoms may get them, along with "appropriate health education and counseling services." Condoms will be supplied by community health service partners, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) or, when neither community health service partners nor BPHC staff are available, from appropriate school staff.
"Schools will adhere to Massachusetts state confidentiality laws," the policy says. "Boston Public Schools encourages communication and involvement with family regarding health services, and parents and legal guardians may exempt their children from receiving condoms by notifying the school when they complete the family information forms at the beginning of the school year."
The new policy take effect this fall.
The six-page policy specifically mentions "social health, emotional health, mental health, behavioral health, physical health, suicide prevention, safe inclusive climates for LGBTQ students, violence prevention, including intimate partner violence, sexual harassment & assault prevention, bullying & cyber bullying prevention, emergency preparedness, school safety, substance use, and pregnant & parenting students."
Each school will establish a Wellness Council, to monitor school health policies -- including nutrition and exercise. The councils also will "identify inclusive practices and opportunities to celebrate diverse cultures and identities."
The wellness policy was developed by a District Wellness Council that involved students, parents, partners (including public health officials) and school staff.
“Healthy students are better learners,” Superintendent Carol R. Johnson said at Wednesday's School Committee meeting. “We are thrilled to be able to pass a policy that makes the healthy choice the easy choice in our schools.”