Parents’ Group Wants ‘Equal Billing’ For Abstinence Programs In New NYC Sex Education Curriculum
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For the first time, details of what students will be taught in New York city’s new controversial sex education program are emerging.
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A parents’ coalition charges that the lessons are racy, not age-appropriate and don’t do enough to teach abstinence.
Do you want your child’s homework assignment to include a trip to the neighborhood drug store to do a report on condoms and write a short essay about whether a friend buy protection there?
Or how about this assignment?
“Sending children to take a look at and catalog where the nearest family planning clinics are to map out their directions and and how to get there,” Michael Benjamin, the Executive Director of the New York City Parents’ Choice Coalition, said.
Members of the NYC Parents’ Choice Coalition say parents may be stunned to learn details of the new sex education program that will be required for 6th to 12th graders — some as young as 11– starting in January.
Members of the group are particularly upset about a website that’s apparently part of the curriculum. Its called “Go Ask Alice” and it tells kids how phone sex can be good and how to have sex with braces, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
“In a sense, they’re encouraging children to explore their sexuality,” Benjamin said.
The group claims that the city program assumes students will be sexual active and tries to give them strategies for avoiding teen pregnancy and getting sexually transmitted diseases. What they want is for abstinence programs to be given equal time.
“If you’re going to have a curriculum that is based on having sex…then give abstinence equal billing,” said Brooklyn parent Sylvia Laughlin.
Rev. Michael Faulker said the city program pushes kids to have sex.
“I think that anything that you focus on the most is where you’re going to find the results. If you talk about not having sex and you show kids how to have sex, they’re going to have sex,” Faulkner said.
There are also parents who support the new program.
“Kids are going to be kids, anyhow you take it — going to have sex regardless of what you believe or what they believe they’re going to do what they want to do, but they need to be educated,” said Dionne Peters, of the Upper West Side.
As politicians, religious officials and advocacy groups gathered for an alternative to the curriculum, Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the program set to be instituted in middle and high schools.
“If parents don’t think that it’s an appropriate message for their children, they can remove their children from the class, but we have a responsibility when you have a out-of-wedlock birthrate and a sexually transmitted disease rate that we have in this city, to try to do something about it. Shame on us if we don’t,” Bloomberg told reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks.
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Statistics from the City Department of Health show a drop in teen pregnancy. From 2000 to 2009, the number of kids 15 to 19 who got pregnant dropped 20 percent and 26 percent in the 15 to 17 age group.
The mayor said that while abstinence was a “very important part of the curriculum,” the city also had the “responsibility to ensure that teenagers who are choosing to have sex understand the potential consequences of their actions and know how to keep themselves safe.”
“I think it’s the responsibility of the city to explain to the kids the risks. We preach abstinence in the sense that we say the only sure way is to not get pregnant, the only sure way to not get a sexually transmitted disease if to abstain from sex,” Bloomberg said.
Schools chancellor Dennis Walcott argues that an increase in the number of sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers increases the urgency of teaching the course.
The Department of Education points out that there is an opt-out provision, and students can attend study hall instead.
“Abstinence is a very important part of the curriculum, but we also have a responsibility to ensure that teenagers who are choosing to have sex understand the potential consequences of their actions and know how to keep themselves safe. So we need a comprehensive curriculum. Abstinence is the only way to be 100 percent safe- but one-third of the new cases of chlamydia in NYC are in teenagers and a significant percentage of our teenagers have had multiple sexual partners, so we can’t stick our heads in the sand about this,” a DOE statement read.
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