Last week the Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, released a new mandate to the city’s school officials that will require comprehensive sex education in all city schools. The requirements include a semester of sexual education during health classes in 6th or 7th grade and a second semester in either 9th or 10th grade. According to research 47% of the city’s teens had already had sex by the age of 13 and usually without any kind of contraception or protection against STI’s. Mayor Bloomberg is attempting to address this with the new sex education mandate. They have also provided two recommended programs that can be used “HealthSmart” and “Reducing the Risk.”
These programs include information on preventing STI’s, unwanted pregnancy, birth control and abstinence until you are ready. At the 9th or 10th grade level class they will even include a lesson on proper condom use. Some schools already have sex education programs in use and these can continue to be used as long as they meet the minimum requirements for the included lessons. This mandate has high levels of support from students, parents and community members. One group, the Steering Committee of HIV Law Project’s Center for Women and HIV Advocacy has been campaigning for more comprehensive sex education in NYC schools since 2006. Parents, particularly in neighborhoods with high teen pregnancy rates, are also cheering the decision. Students themselves have been petitioning for comprehensive sex education in the schools since at least last year.
Despite the vocal support and clear need for comprehensive sex education, many conservatives are railing against this decision saying it is not the place of the school system to teach children about sexuality; it is the responsibility of the parents and family. When almost half of the teens in your city have had unprotected sex by the age of 13 clearly the ball is getting dropped smoewhere; I say go Mayor Bloomberg for being willing to pick it up and teach these teens. All people are entitled to get honest, factual and non-judgmental information about sex, sexuality and how to protect ypurself. Abstinence only sex education programs DO NOT provide this. They serve only to ingrain a sense of guilt and shame to a person’s sexuality, and do not actually keep teens from having sex.
Mayor Bloomberg and the city officials clearly understand this is a hot button topic as they have left the option for parents to refuse permission for their children to attend certain lessons, but by taking the initiative to address high teen pregnancy and STI rates; New York City is moving in the right direction.