Parents deserve a say!

Michael Benjamin

Teaching how to use a condom is foreplay compared with what the New York City Department of Education has in store for city students.

Last summer, the city decided to mandate a controversial, one-size-fits-all sex education program without consulting parents, and without any plans to inform parents about exactly what their children — as young as 11 — will be taught about sex. The program will be rolled out city-wide in less than nine weeks, and parents know virtually nothing about what will be taught in their local schools.

According to its printed curriculum, the controversial sex ed program will, in addition to sending students to corner drug stores to catalogue condom brands and to abortion clinics to inquire about confidentiality policies, refer middle- and high-school children to a sexually explicit website, GoAskAlice.com, where lessons in sadomasochism, group sex, and bizarre sexual fetishes are taught. (The Department of Education denies it uses books with Go Ask Alice references, but the books are listed on the curriculum, and the city has ordered and received them, according to their publisher.)

New York is the most multicultural city in America — with families holding a variety of deep cultural beliefs — and parents who find the city’s planned sex ed curriculum anathema to their beliefs deserve a choice in how sex ed is taught to their children. New York has a religious exemption for parts of its sex education curriculum, but the children of parents who opt out receive no sex education at all. The NYC Parents’ Choice Coalition believes those students have a right to be educated about reproduction and sexually transmitted diseases in a more traditional way. These alternative curricula have been shown empirically to be just as effective as what the city has planned, and have been successfully employed in cities across the country, including neighboring Philadelphia and Yonkers.

What is most concerning and galling — is that the Department of Education has no plans to hold Town Halls or informational meetings for parents about what exactly will be taught in January. Parents have a right to know, but the Department of Education doesn’t seem to care about that.

Michael Benjamin is a former state assemblyman and spokesman for NYC Parents’ Choice Coalition.

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