GUEST OP-ED: Alternative needed to the city’s planned sex ed curriculum

Last week, we were proud to join with Congressmember Bob Turnerand the New York City Parents’ Choice Coalition in supporting analternative to the sexual education curriculum that will bemandated in our city schools beginning in January.

The planned program forces the teaching of graphic and explicitmaterial to children at an increasingly young age, taking a majorcomponent of a child’s upbringing out of the hands of parents whereit belongs.

We are advocating for an abstinence-based alternative programthat parents can choose to enroll their children in, because thecurrent curriculum crosses the boundary between educating studentsand violating parents’ rights to raise their children as they seefit.

A number of abstinence-based curriculums are successfully beingused in school districts throughout the nation. We also believethat the New York City Department of Education (DOE) needs to holdtown hall forums in every borough to explain to parents exactlywhat it will begin teaching in just 10 weeks.

They need to begin them right away.

Under the Department of Education’s printed curriculum, ourschools will be referring children to information on things likebestiality, pornography and how to obtain an abortion. Homeworkexercises will include cataloguing condom brands and types at localdrugstores and bodegas.

The DOE cannot force this type of curriculum on parents withouttheir consent, or without providing them an option. This policytramples on parents’ rights to incorporate their own opinions,beliefs and values in their children’s upbringing.

The fact of the matter is a single curriculum for all couldnever work in such a culturally-diverse city like New York, due tothe many faiths and belief systems found in every community.

New York has always prided itself on being a melting pot – aplace where people from all over the world with different creedsand religions can call home. Forcing a graphic sexual curriculum onour children is an affront to the sprawling diversity that makesour city so vibrant and unique.

Parents deserve a choice when it comes to sex ed, just likechildren deserve a chance to be raised with their own family’svalues. That’s why we are advocating for an abstinence-basedalternative opt-out for parents – because a child’s development istoo important to take away from parents.

In recent days, the DOE has suggested that there may, in fact,be no single curriculum planned – that principals in each of theschools may decide what parts of the printed curriculum will betaught in those schools. That’s an even scarier thought.

It means what our children will be taught about sex will be upto the discretion of individuals, each with his or her owninterpretation of what’s okay.

Parents have a right under federal law to know what theirchildren are being taught.

But, 10 weeks before the most controversial sex ed curriculum inNew York City history is implemented, no one seems to know forsure.

That is unacceptable.

We salute Mayor Bloomberg for recognizing that teen pregnanciesand sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a major publichealth problem – New York City has an abortion rate twice thenational average – but there are alternative ways to address theproblem.

Abstinence-based programs have been shown to be as effective ormore effective in reducing teen pregnancy and STIs than programslike the so-called comprehensive curriculum the city is about toimplement.

So why needlessly offend thousands of New York City families whoare uncomfortable with what this city is mandating?

If the results are identical, why not give parents a choice?

Golden and Malliotakis represent portions of southwestBrooklyn.

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