Montgomery Co. Public Schools ensures condom accessibility

WASHINGTON —  Now that Montgomery County’s school board has voted to allow condoms to be distributed in all county high schools, health officials are working to make sure that students will actually feel confident in asking for them.

Dr. Travis Gayles, Montgomery County health officer, said the condoms will be available in every high school’s health room, and that school nurses will be trained in providing information about sexual health along with the condoms.

He said he understands some students might still be reluctant to approach the school nurse for condoms.

“As a pediatrician who has specialized in taking care of adolescents, I completely acknowledge and understand that there may be some apprehension” on the part of students, he said.

Gayles, who previously worked in D.C., said he’ll be talking to D.C.’s health officials about their programs. D.C. public schools and health officials have worked together to train young people to serve as peer counselors at their own high schools.

Gayles said Montgomery County will keep working on ways to remove any barriers to accessibility. “In building programs for young people, we can’t simply take programs we tried for adults and try to force young people into it,” Gayles said.

The Montgomery County Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to expand condom distribution to all high schools. Previously, condoms were to be distributed at just four schools — those with community wellness centers.

The school system took the action after getting a briefing from Gayles that showed the rate of infection of sexually transmitted diseases hit a 10-year high, with increases in the double digits in just one year.

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