“New York is a multi-cultural city whose residents hold a variety of deeply held beliefs and social traditions,” said former Democratic State Assemblyman Michael Benjamin , the Executive Director of the New York City Parents’ Choice Coalition. “It’s wrong to force them to choose between what the City is planning and no sex education at all. Parents who want a more traditional, abstinence-based sex education curriculum for their children should be able to have that.”
In August, the Bloomberg administration announced that they were implementing a comprehensive sex-ed program as part of an initiative–one that partners with Mr. Bloomberg’s foundation–to focus city resources on black and Latino young men.
The new program, according to a Fernando Santos article published when it was announced:
goes beyond the state’s requirement that middle and high school students take one semester of health education classes. The city’s mandate calls for schools to teach a semester of sex education in 6th or 7th grade, and again in 9th or 10th grade, suggesting they use HealthSmart and Reducing the Risk, out-of-the-box sets of lessons that have been recommended since 2007.
Parents will be able to have their children opt out of the lessons on birth-control methods. City officials said that while there would be frank discussions with students as young as 11 on topics like anatomy, puberty, pregnancy and the risks of unprotected sex, the focus was to get students to wait until they were older to experiment. At the same time, knowing that many teenagers are sexually active, the administration wants to teach them about safe sex in the hopes of reducing pregnancy, disease and dropouts.
The coalition in Bay Ridge today, which included, besides Mr. Benjamin, a former Assemblyman gearing up for a Congressional run against Jose Serrano, newly-elected Congressman Bob Turner and representative from Congressman Michael Grimm’s office, wants parents to be able to have an alternative sex education curriculum to choose from.
The current program, they say, is a single sex ed curriculum that would include sending students to corner drug stores to catalogue condom brands, visiting abortion clinics to inquire about confidentiality policies, and referring middle- and high-school children to a sexually-explicit website where lessons in sadomasochism, group sex, and bizarre sexual fetishes are taught. The group also alleges that only parents willing to go through a lengthy and arduous process will be able to opt their children out of the curriculum –but that those students will then get no sex education at all and be sent to study hall or other activities.
“Parents had no say in this mandate,” Mr. Turner told The Daily News. “The Archdiocese of New York, Orthodox Jewish groups, Muslims, many are saying this is a sensitive and delicate subject, and they want more say in what is taught.”