Wednesday, October 01, 2008

(Package of penile and female condoms,
before they were shipped to Wasllia High School.)

Condoms Donated to Wasilla High School;
Activists Promote Safe Sex

[The following release was sent to reporters, editors and bloggers in Alaska.]

October 1, 2008

Michael Petrelis
Ph: 415-621-6267

Clover Simon, CEO
Planned Parenthood Federation of America/
Alaska Chapter
Ph: 907-770-9705

Tim Stallard, Proprietor
Out in Alaska
Ph: 907-374-9958

Condoms Donated to Wasilla High School;
Activists Take Stand to Promote Safe Sex &
Prevent Teen Pregnancy

WASILLA, ALASKA -- Dozens of penile and female condoms have been donated to the student body at Wasilla High School by a longtime health educator and activist. His goal is to raise the awareness of Alaskan students and educators, regarding the crucial role that condoms play in safe sex habits, as well as preventing teenage pregnancies.

Wasilla High School was chosen for the donation, since Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin graduated from that school. During her recent campaign, Ms. Palin has spoken out against condoms and favored abstinence, despite extensive scientific research that proves the effectiveness of condoms and the failure of abstinence-only programs.

The condoms were donated by Michael Petrelis, a gay man living with AIDS based in San Francisco. He has been a sex educator and activist since the 1980s, when government officials first prevented condom distribution in the schools. This was despite proof that condoms curtailed HIV transmission and saved lives. His donated package includes instructions on how to properly use the condoms.

"Regardless of one's gender or sexual orientation, sexually curious or active teenagers need the tools to engage in healthy sexual behaviors," said Petrelis. "Abstinence alone is a farcical theory, and a dangerous false-option when it comes to protecting Alaska's youth from HIV, other sexually transmitted infections and teenage pregnancies. We need only look at Gov. Palin's daughter Bristol for a powerful example of how abstinence education has failed teenagers."

Planned Parenthood of Alaska's CEO, Clover Simon, expressed support over the condom donation.

"I hope the principal of Wasilla High School uses this donation as an opportunity to evaluate and discuss with the community how to ensure youth receive medically accurate sexual health information," Simon said from her office in Anchorage. "Our organization knows too well the costs to personal health and strong communities when youth are uninformed about protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy. Promoting abstinence and discussing birth control and condoms is not a contradictory message, it is in fact, the message that young people need to hear."

Tim Stallard, a gay Alaskan leader and operator of Out in Alaska, a gay and lesbian wilderness guiding service based in Fairbanks, also endorsed the donation of condoms and promotion of safe sex habits.

“The whole world knows that the teenagers in Wasilla are having sex. It is irresponsible from a public health perspective for Alaskan youth to not have easy access to condoms and comprehensive sexual education,” said Stallard.

The package of condoms and instructions was mailed to Dwight Probasco, Wasilla High School’s principal.

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