California Legislators Revive Bill to Provide Free Condoms to Students After Newsom’s Veto

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California Legislators Revive Bill to Provide Free Condoms to Students After Newsom’s Veto

The California State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

2/1/2024

Updated: 2/4/2024

Legislation requiring California’s public schools to stock condoms has been revived after Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed the bill last fall.
State Sen. Caroline Menjivar re-introduced the bill, now named Senate Bill 954, Jan 22.
It would require all public schools to make internal and external condoms available to students in middle and high school for free.
In a press release Jan. 22, Ms. Menjivar noted rising rates of sexually transmitted infections among youth—especially youth of color and LGBT youth.
Gov. Newsom vetoed the bill in October saying it would cost several million dollars annually for the state and therefore would be too expensive, given California’s current estimated budget deficit for fiscal year 2024-25.
As such, Ms. Menjivar’s revised effort requests funding for the program for three years if other means to pay for it are not identified, according to the press release.
The state is projected to have a budget deficit of $38 billion for fiscal 2024-25 by Mr. Newsom’s estimates, but state financial analysts say the figure is much higher at $68 billion.
For the new bill, Ms. Menjivar said that its goals to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections among youth, would also save the state over the long run.
“[Senate Bill 954] aims to safeguard the health and futures of high school students statewide by increasing equitable access to condoms while also increasing fiscal responsibility,” she said in the press release. “Investing in prevention is a fraction of the cost compared to the millions California spends on the treatment of STIs every year. This isn’t about a catchy headline but rather the health and safety of our youth.”
Sue Oh, a leader at Generation Up, a California-based student-led social justice organization, which is a co-sponsor of the bill, said it is a “crucial step in destigmatizing the conversation about sexual health at schools.”
“Providing free condoms at high schools will generate an atmosphere of non-judgment and security, and a feeling among students that our schools care for our well-being and can be a place where we can go when we need help and information,” she said in Ms. Menjivar’s press release.
However, those in opposition said the state’s sexual health policies in recent years have inadvertently caused a rise in sexually transmitted infections.
“For the last decade or more this legislative body has been pushing condoms as the solution to sexually transmitted infections spreading among our youth,” said Greg Burt, with the public policy advocacy group California Family Council, during a Senate committee hearing for the previous bill last March. “And each time the infection rate rose, [legislators] insisted kids just need easier access to condoms and information about safe sex at younger and younger ages.”
Mr. Burt urged the committee last spring to rethink the issue, advocating instead for the state to uphold the ideal of abstinence until marriage.
“It is time to tell young people the truth, that those with the most fulfilling and healthy sex lives are those who treat sex as a special and intimate act to be shared in a monogamous, committed marriage,” he said. “I’m not encouraging you to shame people. But hold up abstinence until marriage as a noble ideal. [Sexually transmitted infections] can’t thrive in a culture that idealizes marriage.”
Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

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Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

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