Coalition calls for abstinence-based sex education

How much information is too much when it comes to teachingchildren about sex? That is the question posed by activist group,NYC Parents’ Choice Coalition.

On October 24, local officials, civic organizations andreligious leaders gathered across the street from P.S. 104 on FifthAvenue between 91st and 92nd Sts. to demand that Schools ChancellorDennis Walcott offer an alternative the new sexual educationcurriculum slated to begin citywide in January, according topublished reports. They want students to be given the option ofhaving a program with a greater emphasis on abstinence.

Sexual education is very important, said Assemblymember NicoleMalliotakis, who spoke at the press conference. But, we believethe New York City Department of Education shouldn’t be forcing thisgraphic education on kids, but instead should offer anabstinence-based curriculum.

We all understand the importance of teaching sex education inthe 21st century, but parents know what is best for theirchildren, asserted State Senator Marty Golden. We urge theDepartment of Education to give parents an option of what theirchildren should be taught, and abstinence only should be an option.Mandates should be for math, reading, English and science, not forhow to use condoms.

A large section of the population’s views aren’t beingreflected on this, added Brooklyn Conservative Party Chair JerryKassar. I think there are a lot of people who feel this issomething deserving more thought.

It has been nearly two decades since sexual education has beenmandatory in New York City public schools. However, it will soon bereturning for middle and high school students, according to the NewYork City Commission on Women’s Issues Fall Report. And Walcottcontends that the program already includes a hefty dose ofabstinence education, noting, Abstinence is a very important partof the curriculum, but we also have a responsibility to ensure thatteenagers who are choosing to have sex understand the potentialconsequences of their actions and know how to keep themselves safe.So we need a comprehensive curriculum.

However, the city’s proposed sexual education program is morecomprehensive than parents realize, according to Parents’ ChoiceCoalition member Greg Pfundstein of the Chiaroscuro Foundation.

The experience that I have is parents think it’s just aboutsaying, ‘Here’s a condom. Here’s how it works,’ Pfundstein said.I don’t think they understand the more explicit things in thecurriculum.

Brooklyn reproductive rights activist Casey Detrow disagrees. Ithink it’s pretty ridiculous that they would consider the truth tobe too explicit when it comes to basic biological facts, Detrowsaid, adding: I think it’s repressive to young adults who deservea full picture with facts, rather than skewed political ideas withreligious doctrine.

Simone Ward, vice president of public affairs for PlannedParenthood of New York City, agreed. She points to a recent poll byHeart Research which she says found a majority of New Yorkers wantsex education taught, with more than three-fourths of thembelieving it was already a required part of the curriculum.

Our young people need sex education, Ward said They’rebombarded with information and misinformation about sex andsexuality all the time. It’s our responsibility as parents andcaregivers to make sure that they have factually correctinformation – as well as the tools to help them make gooddecisions, have healthy relationships, and make the right choicesto keep them safe and healthy.

However, the members of the Parents’ Choice Coalition point to22 studies collected by the National Abstinence EducationAssociation which found abstinence-centered programs to be moreeffective than more open-ended approaches. But according toParents’ Choice Coalition Executive Director Michael Benjamin, theorganization stops short of offering an alternate curriculum.

Our role would end the second the chancellor says he’s going tooffer an abstinence-based program, Benjamin said.

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