In the third, a supplement for teachers points them to a website called Go Ask Alice operated by health services at Columbia University, where members of the N.Y.C. Parents Choice Coalition say “lessons in sadomasochism, group sex and bizarre sexual fetishes are taught.” (Yesterday, the website had five stories on the top of its page—“Help! I’m a feminist and becoming prejudiced against men!”; “I lost my voice—Now what?”; “Sore Sex?”; “All Torn Up Over Stretching”; and “Getting an erection after ejaculating—the full story.”) D.O.E. officials say that the website is merely for teachers who want more information, and not necessarily a part of the curriculum.
However, the curriculum does include some abstinence training. Ms. Ravitz pointed The Observer to a section of the workbook called “My Abstinence Plan:”
Trying to Slow Down—Effective Version:
Person 1: Why are you stopping now?
Person 2: This feels good, but let’s not have sex now.
Person 1: It isn’t my birthday every day, you know.
Person 2: Yea, I know, but I don’t think we are ready
Person 1: I’ve never had sex before and want to have it with you first.
“But what it doesn’t talk about is abstinence being the only way to save lives,” said the Rev. Faulkner. “‘Do it at your peril.’ That kind of message really resonates, rather than, say, sending a mixed message that sexuality is healthy expression of who we are. Well, it is a healthy expression of who we are, but it is also very risky for young people.”
Mr. Walcott said that he was not surprised by the upheaval, despite the fact that it had been 30 years or so—back when the city first began distributing condoms in schools—that there has been a similar uproar in New York City.
“To be honest with you, I expected more,” he said. The reality is that this is a topic that is a very sensitive one for religious institutions and some parents. But we have a responsibility as a school system to not let that interfere with what we think is good policy.”
They have begun, in Mr. Walcott’s words, “responding to some of the misinformation out there.” He met with the bishop of Brooklyn and Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Their communications team has begun to write op-eds of their own. They are trying to make the actual curriculum more available to the curious.
“It’s New York City. I expect a backlash,” he continued. “Our responsibility is to make sure we respond to them with fact. Our bottom line is that we have the health of our students to protect.”
Mr. Benjamin and his allies, though, remain unconvinced, and their latest tack is attacking the mayor with some of the initiatives he holds most dear.
“We can’t have trans fats in our food, we can’t smoke in public, because these things are bad for our health. Yet we know that teens having sex and having children is bad for their future. Why don’t we pass out to kids nicotine patches, or pass out to them filtered cigarettes? There is zero tolerance for that kind of risky behavior, and there should be zero tolerance for this, too.”