Safe Sex for Students


As of July 2021, Vermont Public high schools and middle schools are required by law to provide condoms to students. Even though our school is technically in compliance with this law, and condoms can be found in the nurse’s office, it is not exactly common knowledge to students.

What is the Law?

Vermont is the first state to enact a law of this kind, the purpose of which is to decrease STDs, abortions, unwanted pregnacies, and to increase the learning of sexual health and safe sex in schools. These condoms are free of charge.

The Vermont statute reads:

“School district administrative teams, in consultation with school district nursing staff, shall determine the best manner in which to make condoms available to students. At a minimum, condoms shall be placed in locations that are safe and readily accessible to students, including the school nurse’s office.”

The law directly mentions keeping condoms in the school nurse’s office (where Lake Region currently keeps them) but they could also be kept in a wellness center, health classroom or anywhere else where they are readily accessible. According to Law insider, “Readily accessible means easily located and retrieved without searching, delay or hindrance.”(law insider). In other words it means that you should be able to walk in and walk out, with no need for talking or questioning. When one walks into our nurse’s office looking for a form of contraception they must first ask the nurse, and then wait for the contraception to be located in the back room of the office and retrieved.

For students, being required to verbally request contraception from an adult can be scary, awkward, and intimidating. This undermines the spirit of the new Vermont law, as it makes contraception less “readily accessible.”chosen to have a small basket that is easily accessible near the door of a nurse’s office.

What are other schools doing?

Not all schools are taking the same approach that we are with our “readily available condoms” in providing contraception as Lake Region. Many are simply putting out a basket that is available at any time, whether or not an adult is there to supervise the location. North Country has their condom availability in the form of a basket in their wellness center, there is easy and discrete access. Their condom policy was originally created by students for students before the law was enacted. One school that is talked about by VSSNA (Vermont State School Nurses Association) made the decision to leave out a bowl of condoms in their health section of the library.

Recently, a VSSNA meeting was held to ensure that this legislation was being followed correctly, and that all schools were taking part. In this learning session, speaker Andrea Nicoletta, the education program manager at Planned Parenthood, states that the school nurse’s office should be one of the places where students can have access to condoms. She specifically says that there should be “no barriers” for students to have this access. They shouldn’t even have to have a conversation about it. She also mentions schools should keep the access as easy as possible. It could be as simple as a bowl of condoms, or a little goodie bag with a few inside. They should also have tools that relate to students of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Dental/oral dams and lube (which decreases breakage for condoms) should be included. Even though this is not officially part of the law it is strongly encouraged by the guidelines sent out for all Vermont public school nurses to watch. One of the most important points Nicoletta makes is that the adults who are in charge of the space where condoms are accessed should not try to joke with, stigmatize, or shame any student who is looking to practice safe sex. A recent VSSNA ‘town hall’ discussion video covers a number of best practices relating to how schools can and should provide contraception under Vermont’s new law (VSSNA’s Condom Availability Program ).

Why Should it Matter?

Not all the adults at Lake Region are supportive of this new law, which makes implementation complicated. Teachers at our school have said, “its one more responsibility for the school” and that providing condoms is “an encouragement that students should be having sex at a young age.”

Those are reasonable arguments. However, according to The Virginia Department of Health,(Pie chart) the majority of teens are first having sex between the ages of 15-17, the age of the average high schooler. Since there are students in high school having sexual encounters (with or without access to protection), Vermont has made this law to keep these students protected. According to NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology and Information) “Federal support of AOE as an approach to improve adolescent sexual health is deeply troubling because of medical inaccuracies, programs that are not efficacious and may harm adolescents, and the unethical practice of withholding and distorting health information. We encourage all healthcare providers involved in reproductive health to advocate for medically accurate comprehensive sexuality education for adolescents in their professional organizations, local healthcare system, schools, and communities. Professionals in the field of obstetrics and gynecology are well positioned to reframe the ‘moral’ debate so that providing comprehensive, effective and accurate reproductive health information to adolescents is the right choice.”instead of trying to shame adolescents for wanting to learn things about themselves and their bodies, we should do better to educate them. It is easy for any school to get free condoms through the VSSNA, as long as the school has a written condom procedure.

What’s going on here at LR?

Currently, Lake Region does not have an official written policy, but it is in the making. LR has had lost of conversations with one of Lake Region’s school nurses, Elizabeth Bryant, about how getting an official policy written can get us access to free condoms (latex and non latex), lube, and dental/oral dams, and how LR can make these contraceptives more accessible to students. Bryant raised concerns about a lack of sec education in local middle schools and believes that the new VT law can benefit our schools.

Teens Learning About Their bodies?!

Vermont’s new law aligns with a larger trend toward positive sex education in America, including in popular entertainment.In the past few years people have been creating shows to try and do just this, such as Big Mouth. Big Mouth shows us a new take on sex education, covering puberty, sexuality, LGBTQ+, divorce, family problems and really how to handle yourself and your relationships emotionally.

In December, Big Mouth will be going on it’s 5th season and is more popular than ever. This show is teaching teens and tweens that it is ok to be different and the new experiences that growing up brings you. According to, “​​Big Mouth might be the best thing to happen to sex education since parents starting mislaying copies of The Joy of Sex.”

Another show, Sex Education, is in some ways like Big Mouth in the sense that it teaches teens about their bodies and sexual identities. However, the show targets a slightly older audience. Sex Education follows a student whose mother is a sex therapist, and thus her kid is well informed on this subject. When he and his friends realize the lack of sex education their school has, they take it into their own hands to help the other students (and some teachers) with their personal relationships. Again, this show has a purpose of teaching high school students to not have shame about their intimate relationships and the emotions they experience at this age.

People are trying to educate teens in a way that they will want to listen (TV shows) and in a way that isn’t as awkward as having to talk to an adult. When people are given the chance to just understand things instead of being told not to do something, it is so much better in the long run.

What’s the point of all this?

Teens should be able to have a healthy outlet in which they can express themselves and feel heard by others. Students deserve to be properly educated. Sometimes it can be hard for students to advocate for themselves, and certain people have more trouble with that than others–that’s okay. If there is one thing that Lake Region should give to its students, it’s the tools and knowledge to stay safe, and that should go for everything, including sex.


Vermont First State Requiring Secondary Schools To Give Out Free Condoms

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