Philadelphia adds condom dispensers in high schools to combat STDs

A condom dispenser that was recently installed inside a Philadelphia high school. (Photo: Philadelphia Inquirer)

A condom dispenser that was recently installed inside a Philadelphia high school. (Photo: Philadelphia Inquirer)

A condom dispenser that was recently installed inside a Philadelphia high school. (Photo: Philadelphia Inquirer)

A condom dispenser that was recently installed inside a Philadelphia high school. (Photo: Philadelphia Inquirer)

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (FoxNews.com) — When Philadelphia high school students return from their holiday break, many will find school officials handing out gifts to even the naughty boys and girls: free condoms.

The city is rolling out condom dispensers at 22 high schools whose students had the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases. And condoms will be available to any student so long as their parents did not sign a form opting them out of the program. 

It’s all part of what officials say is an attempt to address an alarming public health crisis.

There is “an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases in adolescents in Philadelphia,” Donald Schwartz, deputy mayor for health and opportunity, told Philly.com.

The city has given out 4 million condoms since April 2011, and that has coincided with a drop in STD rates, Philly.com reports, but school leaders are concerned that teens still account for a fourth of new STD cases in the city.

“This is a serious public health matter,” Mayor Michael Nutter told Philly.com.

Regardless, Peg Devine, a school nurse at Lincoln High, told the Philadelphia Inquirer “I just can’t imagine the parents of a 14-year-old being happy with this.”

It seems she was right. There has already been a backlash from parents who believe the condoms will be an “advertisement for sex.”

What do you think about the program? Click here to tell us on Facebook