Friday, May 24, 2024

California Bill Provides Condoms to High Schoolers Without Adult Input

Not counting this year’s really wet winter and early spring, the weather in California is typically conducive of a wide range of ballooning, including helium filled singles and bouquets for special events, old-fashioned individual balloons, which purchasers can inflate with their own breath, and giant hot air balloons, which carry sightseers across the state’s southern, central, and northern regions.

Of course, California’s heavily woke political climate is also conducive of another type of ballooning.

Two pieces of legislation — one new, one already on the books for two years — promote and protect the use of condoms during sex.

Introduced last month by Democrat Senator Caroline Menjivar, State Senate Bill 541 aims to ensure free condoms are available to high school students, with or with adult knowledge or consent.

Another law passed in 2021, Assembly Bill 453, made stealthing — the act of removing a condom during sex with the verbal consent of one’s partner — a crime.

Senate Bill 541, which was on track to be considered by the Senate Education Committee this week, would require schools to offer condoms in at least two different locations and provide information on proper use without requiring students to request them from an adult.

“What we’re asking the schools to do is to provide condoms in two different locations throughout their campus, and not where a student will have to go to a teacher, an administrator to ask for them,” said Menjivar, who explained she is “trying to remove the shame” of asking for contraceptives, noting the pressure of asking for adult assistance often leads students to forgo condoms entirely.

“We want to make sure they have all the facts and all the resources available at their fingertips to make a safe decision,” Menjivar said.

The California Family Council, a conservative advocacy group, has condemned the legislation, saying, “California public schools have been pushing condoms as part of ‘comprehensive sex education’ for more than a decade in the name of improving student health. But it’s been a complete failure if you look at the rates of sexually transmitted infections.”

The council cited findings by the California Department of Public Health that sexually transmitted infections have reached “epidemic levels” in the state and that students need to be taught to “treat sex as a special and intimate act to be shared in a monogamous committed relationship with someone of the opposite sex.”

If passed and approved by the governor, likely a sure bet, the bill, which also provides free access to the HPV vaccine at state-funded Family Planning, Access, Care and Treatment centers, would go into effect by the 2024-2025 school year.

Meanwhile, California is still the only state in America to outlaw stealthing, through a measure approved unanimously with bipartisan support and then signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in Oct. 2021.

“For a majority of the people, it’s like, ‘Yeah, it makes sense that this is immoral and it should be illegal,’ ” state Assembly member Cristina Garcia, who sponsored the legislation, explained to National Public Radio. “A lot of people told me, ‘I can’t believe it’s not already illegal.’ “

Garcia said she was motivated to write a bill to ban stealthing when she read an entry in the journal law student Alexandra Brodsky, whose insights on the subject are credited with prompting wider community awareness and discussion on stealthing.

Brodsky, now a civil rights attorney who authored the book “Sexual Justice,”recalls few people were talking openly about nonconsensual condom removal at the time garcia read her journal and sponsored the anti-stealthing bill.

Brodsky added that not only is nonconsensual condom removal a violation in itself, but it also poses the risk of an unplanned pregnancy an the potential transmission of a sexually transmitted infection.

“The experience of realizing that your partner, your sexual partner, has no concern for your autonomy, your individual dignity, your right to make decisions about who you have sex with, when and how,” Brodsky told NPR, is a “a terrible violation regardless of whether a physical injury occurs, regardless of whether a pregnancy occurs.”