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theschoolboards
08-10-2011, 08:27 AM
From the N.Y. Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/10/nyregion/in-new-york-city-a-new-mandate-on-sex-education.html) by Fernanda Santos and Anna M. Phillips:
For the first time in nearly two decades, students in New York City’s public middle and high schools will be required to take sex-education classes beginning this school year, using a curriculum that includes lessons on how to use a condom and the appropriate age for sexual activity.

The new mandate is part of a broader strategy the Bloomberg administration announced last week to improve the lives of black and Latino teenagers. According to city statistics, those teenagers are far more likely than their white counterparts to have unplanned pregnancies and contract sexually transmitted diseases.

“It’s obviously something that applies to all boys and all girls,” said Linda I. Gibbs, the deputy mayor for health and human services. “But when we look at the biggest disadvantages that kids in our city face, it is blacks and Latinos that are most affected by the consequences of early sexual behavior and unprotected sex.”

The change will bring a measure of cohesion to a patchwork system of programs largely chosen by school principals.

It will also bring to New York the roiling national debate about what, exactly, schools should teach students about sex.

Nationwide, one in four teenagers between 2006 and 2008 learned about abstinence without receiving any instruction in schools about contraceptive methods, according to an analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive health. As of January, 20 states and the District of Columbia mandated sex and H.I.V. education in schools. An additional 12 states, New York included, required H.I.V. education only, according to a policy paper published by the institute.

New York City’s new mandate 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. A city survey of principals last year found that 64 percent of middle schools were using the HealthSmart curriculum.

read more>> (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/10/nyregion/in-new-york-city-a-new-mandate-on-sex-education.html)

theschoolboards
08-11-2011, 08:58 AM
From the N.Y. Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/11/nyregion/new-york-archdiocese-criticizes-sex-education-mandate.html) by Anna M. Phillips:
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York called a new city requirement that sex education be taught at all public middle and high schools “troubling” on Wednesday, and some Catholic officials said they would advise Catholic parents not to let their children participate.

In the first serious challenge to the city’s mandate, which was announced on Tuesday, a spokesman for the archdiocese said the church’s position was that parents, not the schools, should educate children about sex.

“Parents have the right and the responsibility to be the first and primary educators of their children,” Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the archdiocese, wrote in a statement. “This mandate by the city usurps that role, and allows the public school system to substitute its beliefs and values for those of the parents.”

The sex-education curriculum — packages of lesson plans titled HealthSmart and Reducing the Risk — describes abstinence as the best method to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. It includes lessons on how to use a condom and discussions about the appropriate age for sexual activity.

The lesson plans have been recommended by the city for several years, and are already used in many schools.

Until now, principals have chosen what, if anything, is taught about sexuality. The city will now require that all students take a semester of sex education in middle school and again in high school. For schools that do not have a program in place, the city will recommend that its program be taught.

Edward Mechmann, a lawyer for the archdiocese, said he objected to the “overall lesson” of the city’s program, “that abstinence is a nice ideal.”

Mr. Mechmann said he would encourage parents to exercise an opt-out clause and exclude their children from lessons about contraception. “I’d also insist that parents inspect the materials to make sure there’s nothing really offensive or inaccurate being put in there,” he said. “We don’t say that about cigarettes,” he added. “We don’t say, here’s a filtered cigarette — it’s better than Camel.”

read more>> (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/11/nyregion/new-york-archdiocese-criticizes-sex-education-mandate.html)