Badpuppy Gay Today

Wednesday, 01 October 1997


Religious Claims that Condoms Lead to Promiscuity Shown False
Roman Catholic & Fundamentalist Propaganda Have Helped Spread AIDS

By Corrine Hicks


In 1991 Joseph A. Fernandez, then Schools Chancellor in New York City, was ousted after a campaign against him mounted by Roman Catholic and fundamentalist religious groups opposing condom distribution in the city's public schools. The Chancellor's view, namely, that such distribution helped prevent the spread of AIDS among teens, was seen by cult dogmatists as an invitation to sexual promiscuity.

And, because of fundamentalist opposition mounted against county school boards nationwide, even the mere mention of condoms by a public school teacher in sex education classes has often been forbidden. Only 400 public schools in 50 school districts now make condoms available to sexually active pupils.

Now, however, evidence gathered by a team of New York University researchers shows that sexual activity among teens does not increase because of condom use. Only condom use increases and this, says the NYU study, helps reduce the incidence of AIDS among teens.

The study concludes that the availability of condoms in schools is a "low-cost, harmless addition" to AIDS prevention efforts. The conclusions were published yesterday in The American Journal of Public Health, a scholarly publication that is the arm of the American Public Health Association.

The bitter criticisms launched against former Schools Chancellor Fernandez and others who have long favored teen condom distribution, have been thoroughly rebutted in the new study.

Nearly a decade ago Florida Today, a Gannett publication, published an essay by GayToday's editor denouncing fundamentalist attempts to deny condoms to teens.

The essay called condom-opponents: "Twentieth century primitives who have compromised with witchdoctory and who will live to see their own children perish as a result."

Annually--ten thousand teens—a quarter of approximately 40,000 AIDS cases reported each year—have since contracted the dreaded virus, while pious religious "authorities" congratulate themselves on preventing a non-existent rise in sexually promiscuous behavior.

The new three-year study was financed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and experts in adolescent health programs called it the largest assessment yet published about school/condom distribution.

New York City students, the study says, are more aware of the need for condom use than are pupils in other locales—specifically Chicago. The study focussed on 7,000 students in 12 randomly selected New York schools and 6,000 Chicago pupils similarly chosen. Results showed that nearly 1 in 10 New York students who'd had three or more partners within six months' timeframes, were more likely to have used a condom during their most recent encounter than were their Chicago counterparts.

Former Chancellor Fernandez, who is now an education consultant in Miami, said that the new study supports his early efforts to save lives. "It's a wake up call," he said.

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