SHORELINE, Wash. — Jose Gandara was the first male cheerleader at Shorewood High School and is now pushing for another first on campus. The students want free condoms on campus.
"We want to start with an easy thing we can achieve which is free condoms," said Jose.
It all started with a Shorewood civics class assignment to create change in the community. Using the district’s own data, Jose discovered a need for free contraceptives at his school.
"We found out that about 50% of high school seniors in Washington state are sexually active and out of that, 15% don’t use any form of contraceptive whatsoever," the high school senior said.
Jose learned there is no district policy about distributing contraceptives at Shoreline schools. When he brought the issue to administrators, he said no one seemed very excited to take up his controversial cause.
After weeks of getting nowhere Jose convinced a school board member to meet with him. Jose presented a petition with 355 signatures in favor of disseminating free condoms through the school nurse’s office.
He also presented an action plan detailing how the school could get those condoms at no cost.
"To see things getting traction and to see that you can make a difference is really encouraging," said Jose.
In fact, a school district spokesman said that because of Jose’s efforts, “high school and district leadership are in the process of meeting to discuss next steps and considerations in making a decision and/or policy recommendation.”
Regardless of how you feel about contraceptives on a high school campus, the Stanford-bound senior is already learning important lessons about life outside of high school.
"I learned that it’s really important to try and make change. Sometimes you’ll find obstacles but with persistence and determination great things can happen."