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Bill to make free condoms available to all high school students advances in California Senate

Legislation that would require high schools to provide free condoms to students was approved by the state Senate Education Committee, The Sacramento Bee reported.

Senate Bill 541 would require California public high schools and charter schools to make condoms available to all students by the start of the 2024-25 academic year, The Bee reported.

“Nationwide, 1 in 5 individuals have contracted an STI,” said Sen. Caroline Menjivar, D-Burbank, who introduced the bill. Of those people,  “50% are those of ages between 15 and 24,”  she said.

Contraceptives would be free to students. Schools would also be required to post at least one notice with information specifying how to use condoms.

Sexually active teens face significant barriers to accessing contraceptives, including stigma, judgmental providers, limited transportation and cost, Maura Decker, an associate professor at the Institute for Health and Policy Studies at UC San Francisco, said during the public comment on the bill Wednesday, The Bee reported.

The San Francisco and Los Angeles unified school districts already provide free condoms to students, Decker told the committee. The bill now goes to the Senate Health Committee.