The New York Civil Liberties Union today applauded the Rochester Board of Education’s decision to make condoms available to city high school students.

“This new policy will help keep our teens healthy and safe,” said KaeLyn Rich, director of the NYCLU’s Genesee Valley Chapter. “It is an important step in providing Rochester's young people the tools they need to protect their sexual and reproductive health.”

The Board of Education voted 4-3 to approve the policy, which makes condoms available to students at health clinics located within city high schools. The NYCLU had advocated for the policy change. Rich had testified twice before the school board in favor of it.

Minors in New York have the right to consent to confidential sexual health services, including access to contraception through condom availability programs.

In a recent survey, 58 percent of Rochester high school students reported being sexually active and 21 percent of them reported having at least four partners.

Studies show that condom availability programs increase the rate of condom use and the likelihood that teens will be protected from HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy without increasing rates of sexual activity. Many major health and medical organizations have recommended that schools make condoms available to adolescents within the context of comprehensive school health programs.