Kissimmee condoms

A 16-year-old Kissimmee, Florida went to Osceola High on Halloween dressed as a condom dispenser. The girl’s mother is HIV positive, and has worked for AIDS outreach programs.

(Lanessa) Riobe taped the prophylactics to her shirt, allowing students to remove them. By 8:30 in the morning, she had distributed about 50 condoms to her classmates, she said.

Her first-period teacher alerted school administrators, who suspended her for three days for being a class disruption and having an insolent attitude.

Osceola High Principal Chuck Paradiso later shortened the suspension to one day.

The school’s dress code prohibits clothing that advocates sex or drugs.

About Joanne


  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    I would ground a daughter of mine a week for such a stunt, and my youngest daughter is 46.

  2. Yes, but then it is doubtful that you have AIDS. What the daughter did was wrong and disruptive but I suspect the mother was encouraging her daughter to do that, not putting the brakes on. At least the school is taking a stand without blowing everything out of proportion. IMHO

  3. Richard Brandshaft says:

    1) This girl appreaently had a serious message; it wasn’t just the usual shake-up-the-elders stunt.

    2) If I’m wrong about 1), so what. When I was young, pulling the old people’s chains seemed intrinsically funny and worth while. Now that I am one of the old people, it’s no longer funny. But I still consider this dance between generations basically a good thing.

  4. Well said Richard.

  5. I see absolutely nothing wrong in what this girl did. Take a look at these two quotes from the article:

    The young girl:
    “A lot of my friends are sexually active,” she said. “I tell them, if you’re going to do it, be

    Osceola High Principal Chuck Paradiso:
    “By passing out condoms, you’re acknowledging having sex,” he said. “Our school’s position is abstinence.”

    And thats’s the damn point. This principal is an ostrich with his head stuck in the sand… it doesn’t matter if the teens are in fact having sex, and maybe unsafely… all that matters is the appearance… “aknowledging having sex”…

  6. jab,
    I suspect we will disagree on this just a bit but it sounds like we are close to agreement. You said
    “I see absolutely nothing wrong in what this girl did.”. I would agree that the girl did not do anything morally wrong. However, having a human condom dispenser walking around the campus is disruptive and not respectful of the educational environment. The principal in this case shortened the suspension to one day, which seems appropriate. Lacking evidence that the principal acted unreasonably I would have to support his efforts to run his school as best he can.

  7. Ross…

    I can agree with that… If it was solely a matter of disruption of the educational process, then
    I would completely agree… But it seems to me that when schools allow teens to dress up in Halloween costumes during the school day, well isn’t that just inviting disruption?? Isn’t the point of dressing up in costume to attract attention? It seems to me that her costume also had a message… a message that the school objected to… it wasn’t clear to me whether they were punishing her for her “disruption” or her message.

  8. I don’t understand how the school can object that this specific costume is disruptive – a lot of Halloween costumes are disruptive. It’s par for the kids check each other’s costume out at the beginning of each period and it takes awhile for them to settle down. A few years of that and our school said the heck with it – Halloween is for after school so no costumes are allowed during school.

    However, the Kissimmee school continues to allow costumes and as a consequence has to live with what the kids choose to wear. The student is well within her rights to express her opinion about condom use.

  9. Jab,

    For HIV, condoms may do some good, but they don’t significantly change the possibility of infection. Its already low to begin with. Condoms may be better for stopping diseases such as chalmydia, ghonorhea, etc, but others, such as HPV (major cause of cervical cancer, possible link to other types of cancer), they do no good at all. This notion that a condom is fool proof protection is misleading, particularly with HPV.

    That’s just the value judgement side of the argument. The context side, a girl with condoms all over her? That’s disruptive, more disruptive than a kid dressed up like a werewolf or whatnot.

  10. Walter E. Wallis says:

    What would my critics here say if the girl had worn a confederate flag to school?

  11. Geoff,

    Regarding the context side:
    I never said condoms were foolproof… they aren’t. And any responsible sex ed course would say as much, but oh, wait… “Our school’s position is abstinence” so we can’t have any of that education going on.

    But the principals’s position is even worse… “this is an abstinence school… even if the teens are having sex, we will pretend otherwise, and will squash any attempts to even acknowledge that sex is going on… because if we pretend that sex isn’t goin on, then the problem will just go away…”

    Regarding the disruption… it seems to me schools make mountains out of molehills and create a bigger disruption when trying to censor students… and yes, I already know that the courts have said that schools have a legitimate right to infringe on students’ speech when it becomes disruptive… but it seems that schools only draw more attention to that which they are trying to supress…

  12. The principal, Chuck Paradiso, told the sun-sentinel reporter that “the dress code prohibits clothing that advocates sex or drugs and does not condone distributing condoms on school grounds.” (indirect quote)

    Looking through the dress code online, though, I see a section banning, “Clothing encouraging the use of drugs, alcohol, or violence,” (I, 2 on, and many sections outlining what will be considered indecent clothing, but I can’t track down the section prohibiting clothing which advocates sex.

    There is a catch-all phrase at the beginning of the dress code, which specifies, “Wearing apparel shall not be of the type which would detract from the primary purpose of the school, which is academic instruction, nor shall accessories carried by children to school be disruptive to the conduct of the school or hazardous to student welfare.”

    In my opinion, however, it would be hard to argue that any one costume in particular would be that much more disruptive than others; that is, if the entire student body wears Halloween costumes, they are potentially ALL disruptive to the conduct of the school. The dress code also prohibits “(8) Hats, headgear, or any head covering, except when approved by the Principal.” Did no one wear a costume which needed a hat? If they did, did they get it approved by the Principal? Hats are _specifically_ prohibited.

    I don’t live in Florida, so I must only speculate, but did no High School students wear any costumes which were based on horror films? No one dressed up as an alcholic beverage, nor as a soldier or martial arts expert? If any of them did, and they weren’t suspended, the principal is enforcing the dress code very selectively.

  13. Being insolent is sometimes part of the teenager’s job description. It can usually be treated.

    But I wonder how many day’s suspension another insolent teenager might get if he brought a toy gun or a small knife to school.

  14. Basing sex education solely on abstinence is at best naive. Are you kidding – does the President and conservatives really believe a significant number of America’s teens are going to abstain from having sex?
    I just hope the consequence of this ill-conceived policy isn’t an increase in the rate of teenage pregnancies or even worse a rise in the number of teens afflicted with STD’s.

  15. My senior year at high school I went as one of the characters from “A Clockwork Orange” for Halloween and wore a jock strap on the outside of my pants. It was rather obscene and there were bets taken by other students on how long I would make it before I had to change clothes. I ended up not making it to first period before I was sent to the office and had to remove the offending article of clothing. As best I can remember I got one week of detention after school which made me late to tennis practice and resulted in extra running. But it was well worth it because all the other kids thought it was so cool. However, that is not a story I will be telling my son. He has to come up with other ways to taunt authority and embarrass me.


  16. My daughter’s friend dyed a large portion of her very dark hair a kind of cotton-candy pink. I told her I liked it, I thought it looked very attractive. Rats! : )

  17. Laura,
    That is about the meanest thing you could have done!!! Shame on you.


  18. Bioll Leonard says:

    Here we go again…

    Most of the foregoing discussion is silly. Come on, people. Regardless what some adolescent said her motives were, what does any mature, rational person really think they were? Yes, of course: attention, and attention drawn by outrageous behavior. I don’t think her mother’s HIV-positive situation really had a lot to do with it.

    I say this based on experience as a teenager and as a parent and uncle of teenagers. I am now a grandfather.

    Let’s move on.

  19. Josh Sucher says:

    No reason to move on until the school changes its policy. You may be a grandfather but that doesn’t mean that every teenager seeks only “attention drawn by outrageous behavior.” Regardless, even if that IS what Ms. Riobe wanted, distributing condoms for free is still an honorable thing to do in a nation where 65% of all 18-year-olds have been sexually active, and sex education is still sorely lacking.

  20. Susan Barwick says:

    Is there some reason, the principal couldn’t have simply required the girl to remove the condoms from her shirt and then let it go at that?

    Kids engage in all sorts of vaguely inapproriate behavior for a variety of reasons. I can’t see the point in suspending a student for something as harmless as this.

    As for the Confederate flag, I don’t see a problem with a student wearing one at any time, unless the school has specifically prohibited it, and under those circumstances, I suspect that the prohibition itself might be a problem.

  21. It was Halloween, for heaven’s sake. Perhaps the girl’s message was sensitive, but almost all costume’s are. The teacher’s appropriate response should have been to use the costume to generate a classroom debate on abstinence (or use the whatever other costumes to debate violence). If the school doesn’t want political speech in its student’s costumes, then I’m afraid the appropriate thing to do is ban all costumes on Halloween (a government must treat all political speech equally, however, the First Am unfortunately hasn’t been interpreted much for K-12 students). Imagine if someone dressed up as the Colombine killers, or Muslim hijackers, or even your run of the mill ax murderer, or a generic satan. The latter are common Halloween outfits, but they all condone violence. Halloween must be done away with.

    If those on the right can not tolerate the political messages of the left, then they less moral grounding to complain when their own messages are not tolerated.