As a student of Forest Grove High School, my purpose in recognizing AIDS Day (Dec. 1) was to raise awareness about a serious health issue, AIDS, and ways of preventing it.
I created a poster that spelled out AIDS in condoms and made informational flyers about AIDS/HIV. When people took the condoms, "AIDS" disappeared.
I was disappointed and a bit confused when our principal, Mrs. Robinson, made it clear she did not approve of the use of condoms in the display and thought it would send out the wrong message. She forbade my friends and me from continuing to stand outside with our poster, though it was after school hours.
The point in my poster was not to promote underage sex but to remind teens that having sex can be dangerous to their health and that there are ways to protect themselves.
AIDS is the world's leading infectious killer and between 2006 and 2009 1,264 teens died of AIDS in the United States and 7,436 were diagnosed.
These statistics make it clear that teens' knowledge of and access to the prevention of AIDS is seriously lacking. The reason is the common discomfort when discussing anything related to sexual intercourse.
The school-based health center at FGHS is not allowed to distribute birth control, but we do have need of the nursery available for children of students.
This irony shows that as a society we need to move past our discomfort and face these issues properly, as health issues rather than moral ones.
The fact is by age 19 seven out of ten teens have engaged in sexual intercourse and each year 750,000 women in the U.S, between the ages of 15 and 19 become pregnant. With the availability of birth control and knowledge of safe sexual behaviors the worldwide issues of unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases could greatly diminish.
I hope that the school will reconsider their hasty dismissal of our attempt to create AIDS awareness and think about the importance of making condoms available to students of Forest Grove High School.
- Ruby Vergara-Grindell is a freshman at Forest Grove High School.