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Ban on Condom Ad Provokes Students to Ask Changes

May 07, 1987|STEPHANIE O'NEILL | Times Staff Writer

Angered over the recent banning of a school newspaper ad for condoms as a protection against AIDS, a group of Hoover High School students petitioned the Glendale school board this week for a revision of sex education and teen-guidance courses.

"The AIDS issue is something that cannot be ignored. You can't turn your back on it and hope it will go away . . . it has moved into the adolescent society and the best thing to do is to educate teen-agers as soon as possible. It cannot wait," Brandy Massarotti, a 16-year-old sophomore at Hoover High told the school board Tuesday night.

As a result, board members agreed to form a committee comprising adults and students to study how to include protection against AIDS in the curriculum.

About a dozen Hoover High students said they decided to petition the board after Glendale School Supt. Robert Sanchis ordered the condom ad pulled from the April 24 edition of the Purple Press three days before publication. An editorial criticizing his decision ran in its place.

That began the petition drive in which, the students said, about 140 signatures were garnered, calling for pupil involvement in the reform of sex education and teen counseling.

"A lot of students feel that, in banning the condom announcement, you were worrying about the community's reputation and putting aside the students' health and safety," Massarotti, a Purple Press staff writer, told the board. "The priorities are wrong. The priorities are very wrong. If kids die because of this, that is a very sad thing."

Kristyn Montini, a 16-year-old junior and member of the journalism staff, discussed what she called the lack of counseling and drop-in centers for students.

"Students really don't know where to turn if they have a problem, especially with AIDS spreading so drastically. . . . Maybe the condom ad wasn't a good approach, but I do think something should be done," Montini told board members.

The advertisement, timed to appear before the May 2 senior prom, would have been the first of its kind to run in a Glendale school newspaper. Sanchis, in banning the ad last month, questioned its "suitability" to the community.

On Tuesday, however, Sanchis agreed that acquired immune deficiency syndrome and other health hazards should be discussed in school in a "more sophisticated, much more clear way than we have in the past."

Board members agreed to take up the issue at their next meeting May 19.

"It isn't something we can leap into and agree to tomorrow morning," Sanchis added. "When you deal with providing advice to students, you do have to test it against some type of criteria, including legal implications and medical implications. Social policy has to be taken into consideration."

Board member Charles Whitesell appeared most receptive to the students' remarks, suggesting that board members "pay heed" to them.

"I am disappointed to learn of the current inadequacies in some of our curriculum, and certainly we need to look at, update and analyze our situation," he said.

Standards Questioned

Board member Sharon Beauchamp, meanwhile, questioned the ethics of today's students.

"What happened to the old-fashioned morals, the old-fashioned standards, the old-fashioned self-esteem?" she asked. "We will work with you, but we can only do so much. The rest is on your shoulders."

Massarotti said she was pleased that the school board listened to the students' ideas. "The whole school thinks the board members are a bunch of old fogies and they are really not. They listened to us, they let us talk . . . and they understand where we are coming from now. They see that it's a problem, and they're going to do something," she said.

Montini's enthusiasm, however, was tempered: "I thought it went fairly well . . . but they still didn't seem like they were real anxious to reach a solution."

The students vowed to attend school board meetings. "For us to get a solution, we have to keep on showing that we care and keep getting a lot of student support," Montini said.

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