In August 2011, New York City’s school chancellor Dennis M. Walcott announced that for the first time in 20 years NYC public middle and high school students would be required to receive sex education classes. This type of instruction is supposed to include information on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and proper contraceptive use. Recently, The New York Times reported that these classes are now starting, and offered information on what the kids will be learning. ”Depending on the child’s grade, topics would include physiology and understanding the male and female reproductive systems, recognizing healthy and unhealthy relationships, sexuality and sexual identity, handling unwanted sexual advances, the benefits of abstinence, birth control methods and preventing sexually transmitted diseases,” said Times writer Yasmeen Khan.
She added that the lessons are meant to be co-ed, and will be age-appropriate. Some parents groups have spoken out against the new curriculum, stating that it is too graphic and they are uncomfortable with some of the topics being discussed.
These parents have the option of writing a letter to their child’s principal stating that they do not want their son or daughter to learn about STDs or birth control, but they must specify that they are planning on educating the child about these matters at home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, effective STD prevention requires changing the behaviors that put people at risk for infection. This is why effective education and awareness programs are needed that explain exactly how STDs are spread, and what factors put a person at risk. The Times cited two important things that these new classes might teach. The first is that it is possible to get pregnant the first time a person has sex, and the second is that practicing safer sex by using a latex condom greatly reduces a person’s risk of contracting HIV.
Tags: birth control methods, Dennis M. Walcott, handling unwanted sexual advances, relationships, sexuality and sexual identity, sexually transmitted diseases, the benefits of abstinence, The New York Times