Borough Republicans are just saying “no” to Mayor Bloomberg’s sex-ed initiative, demanding that the city offer parents the ability to opt out in favor of abstinence-only education.
The coalition of conservative lawmakers says that parents — who can opt-out of portions of the program — should be able to decide what their children are taught about sex.
“We’re not saying that they shouldn’t teach sex-ed in schools — just that [parents] should have an option,” said Greg Pfundstein of the NYC Parents Choice Coalition.
The city announced over the summer that, starting in January, students would be required to take a semester-long sex-ed class in junior high and again in high school.
The mayor’s plan is part of an effort to squelch teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The lessons would cover anatomy, puberty, the appropriate age for sex, how to use condoms, and other topics.
Studies have linked abstinence-only programs to a rise in teen pregnancy — particularly in sex-ed–free Texas, where the birth rate among 15- to 19-year-olds is third highest in the nation.
But opponents of the program — which allows students to opt-out of classes that cover the use of birth control — say that the city is overstepping its bounds by forcing kids to take sex-ed classes.
Rep. Bob Turner (R–Marine Park) and Rep. Michael Grimm (R–Bay Ridge) added that any curriculum should be sensitive towards students of different religious faiths — some of which do not allow frank discussions of sexuality.
State law already allows parents to opt-out of sex-ed classes due to religious or moral reasons. And city officials said that they have a responsibility to teach sex-ed.
“Abstinence is a very important part of the curriculum, but we also have a responsibility to ensure that teenagers who are choosing to have sex understand the potential consequences of their actions and know how to keep themselves safe,” said schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.
“One-third of the new cases of chlamydia in the city are in teenagers and a significant percentage of our teenagers have had multiple sexual partners, so we can’t stick our heads in the sand about this.”
Reach reporter Dan MacLeod at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4507.