Four years ago the issue of schools and condoms was hotly debated.
Some public school boards decided to teach students not only how to use condoms but to install condom dispensers for their use.  Since they had adopted the contraceptive philosophy of the Planned Parenthood organization long before that, this move appeared quite natural to them.
Parents in other public schools, however, while not actively opposed to teaching about contraceptives, resisted and turned down the machines as did, for example, the Durham Board of Education in Oshawa, Ontario, in February of this year.
The debate among Catholics, however, was much wider than just a question about machines.  In the United States the National Conference of Bishops was in the thick of the discussion.  The debate was covered in The Interim, especially in the article “Condoms, the Church and AIDS,” April 1988 (available in pamphlet form).
In Toronto the controversy was given an added significance because one agency under Catholic auspices was involved in the actual distribution of condoms.  This policy was suspended when it became clear that such a policy was unacceptable.  The entire U.S. Catholic Episcopacy, together with the Vatican, denied that the promotion of condoms can be reconciled with Catholic teaching.
Many U.S. bishops also objected to the detailed teaching about condoms, just as they have traditionally rejected teaching about contraceptives.  The basic argument here is that when schools teach about contraceptives, they are, in effect, recommending their use, like it or not.
In 1987 the Toronto R.C. Archdiocese decided to pre-empt the Ontario government AIDS curriculum by developing its own.  The task was handed over to the Institute for Catholic Education.  The finished product was severely criticized by The Interim.  (See article in Insight supplement).  In other R.C. dioceses such as Hamilton, the idea of teaching about condoms was rejected.
Recently the York Region R.C. Separate School Board went on record in favour of both teaching and promoting the use of condoms.  It seeks official approval.  Its decision is prime evidence that teaching inevitably leads to advocacy.
Those who say that they must act this way are wrong.  Their approach supports a concept of human nature derogatory of young people – both students and street kids – as zombie-like human beings without a will.  They undermine the call to conversion which is supposed to be the Church’s real task.  They provide a psychological crutch to students which creates a false security.  They misuse the theory of the lesser of two evils in justifying their conduct.
They reinforce the current betrayal of the Church’s battle against the contraceptive mentality by promoting contraceptives and teaching that Humanae Vitae is only one opinion among many or that it should be modified.  They create confusion about the mission of the Church.  They reinforce the popular cult of physical health which holds that there is nothing worse than physical death.  They deny the reality of sin.  And they undermine the common good of our society.
To put it bluntly, our schools – public or separate – should no more be teaching about condoms and recommending them than they should be selling soap.  In fact, selling soap would be a far cleaner and healthier occupation.