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Curtis v. School Committee of Falmouth

652 N.E.2d 580 (1995)

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Curtis v. School Committee of Falmouth

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

652 N.E.2d 580 (1995)

Facts

In 1992 the Falmouth School Committee (the committee) (defendant) implemented a condom-availability program in its junior and senior high schools. The program implemented in the junior high school allowed students to request condoms from the school nurse and required the nurse to counsel students on AIDS/HIV. The program implemented in the senior high school allowed students to request condoms from the school nurse and did not require the nurse to provide counseling absent the student’s request. The program also allowed students to buy condoms through the school’s condom-vending machine. Neither program offered parents an option to exclude their child from participating. Additionally, neither program required that parents be notified if their child had requested a condom. In response to the implementation of the program, Elizabeth G. Curtis and other parents (collectively, the parents) (plaintiffs) filed an action in Massachusetts state court against the committee on the ground that the program violated their constitutional rights. The parents claimed that the program infringed on their right to familial privacy and to control the education and upbringing of their children guaranteed by the Due Process Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The parents also claimed that the program infringed on their free exercise of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment by teaching students that premarital sex was acceptable. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the committee. The matter was appealed directly to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Liacos, C.J.)

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