FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A California lawmaker has introduced a bill to address the rising rates of sexually transmitted infections among teens.
Sen. Caroline Menjivar, who represents the San Fernando Valley, authored Senate Bill 954 -- also known as the Youth Health Equity and Safety Act.
Although some school districts make free condoms available to high school students, a majority don't.
Action News checked in with schools in Central California to see if any districts are already providing free access to condoms.
Fresno, Clovis, Kings Canyon, Visalia and Mariposa school districts said they are not.
The lack of access to a preventative tool is something Sen. Menjivar would like to change.
"What this does is help in situations where we know parents are not going to be there with their kids 24/7," she said. "When a moment happens, and this individual decides to make a personal decision and have sexual intercourse, I want to make sure, when that happens, that they're given the resources necessary to stay safe and healthy."
The proposed bill would require public and charter high schools in the state to make free condoms available to students. It would also ban high schools from prohibiting condom distribution by community health partners, such as during sex education classes. SB954 would also allow school-based health centers to make condoms available to students. Lastly, it would prohibit pharmacies and retailers from asking for proof-of-age for condom purchases.
One Fresno Unified parent believes the bill would be ineffective.
"I feel like it's a lot of wasted energy put into talking about condoms, talking about contraceptives," explained Mandie Shanley, a Bullard High School parent. "While that is valuable information, it's a lot of wasted energy for students that it's not applicable to."
According to a 2021 CDC report, 30% of high school students in the country admitted to having sex. It also shows more than half of the nearly 20 million new STDs reported in 2020 were among those 15 to 24 years old.
"California in fact is spending millions of dollars, some reports say $1 billion, in addressing STI cases of Californians," Sen. Menjivar said. "My bill is looking to ensure that we save money by being preventative and allow that our individuals who are having sexual intercourse are protected."
In Fresno County, more than 50% of chlamydia cases are in the 15-24 age range.
According to Shanley, there are other ways to address that rising number.
This is the second time the senator has introduced this bill. It got vetoed by Governor Gavin Newsom last year.
The newly proposed bill would include a state funding request of about $5 million for three years to ensure high schools are able to provide free access to condoms.
SB 954 is still waiting to be sent to a subcommittee for a vote.