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ANAHEIM : Condoms Given Out at Canyon High

Members of an AIDS activist group on Wednesday gave away about 500 condoms outside the Anaheim high school where a candidate for student body president was kicked off the ballot for handing out prophylactics with his campaign literature.

Most students seemed pleased about the giveaway, which was a first at the high school level in Orange County.

“It’s nice to know people actually care,” said sophomore Lourdes Gonzalez, 15, who accepted a free condom on her way into campus.

Members of ACT-UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, gave green, blue, red and neon yellow condoms and AIDS information leaflets to students as they passed through the entrance gate before classes Wednesday to launch a “Have a Safe Sex Summer” campaign.

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The Orange County chapter of ACT-UP, which was organized about a month ago, also passed out condoms at the screening of a film about AIDS in Costa Mesa. Group members decided to go to Canyon High School, they said, because they believed that the safe sex issue was stifled on campus after junior Patrick Lee’s disqualification from the ballot.

School officials said Lee’s distribution of condoms violated a section of the school election code agreed to by all candidates that prohibited campaigning considered to be in “poor taste.”

“We’re targeting Canyon High because of the furor over Patrick Lee,” said Dave Barton, a member of ACT-UP. “But the Patrick Lee issue is just something for us to hang our condom on. It’s really much larger than that.”

AIDS awareness is crucial for high school students, Barton said, noting the growing number of AIDS patients in their mid-20s who probably contracted the disease while they were teen-agers.

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Principal Jack Fox said he still agrees with the decision to ban Lee’s distribution of condoms but welcomed members of ACT-UP as long as they stayed off school property.

While some students said they were glad the giveaway spared them an embarrassing trip to the drugstore, other students were critical.

“It’s not good for our school image,” junior Rob Sunderland said of the publicity that followed the Lee incident. “We’re looked upon as the condom capital of Orange County.”

Sunderland, who believes that students should wait until they are married to have sex, said condoms should not be handed out at school.

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“I feel that passing them out at school is promoting them, and that’s not what we’re here to learn or teach,” he said.


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