On this momentous occasion, I propose a toast to New York City. Not because its the greatest city in the world, a bustling metropolis of good looking and fashionable people, or the concrete jungle where dreams are made of. Indeed, it is all of these things and more. But today– today I toast to New York because they have just mandated proper sex education in all of their public schools.
For the first time in nearly two decades, students in New York City’s public middle and high schools will be required to take sex-education classes beginning this school year, using a curriculum that includes lessons on how to use a condom and the appropriate age for sexual activity.
The New York Times reports that although this mandate is part of Mayor Bloomberg’s larger plan to “improve the lives of black and Latino teenagers,” who are more likely to become pregnant or contract sexually transmitted diseases or infections, sex education will take place in classrooms throughout the five boroughs, filling in the gaps that need it.
The best part is that it steers very clear from the Bush-era abstinence-only model and instead adopts evidence-based education methods, including:
- Going beyond the facts about risk and protection to present a powerful, active approach to preventing teenage pregnancy and protecting against HIV and other STDs
- Teaching students the interpersonal or social skills they can use to abstain or protect themselves, including refusal skills, delay tactics and alternative actions
- Activities on pregnancy, STD and HIV risk perception; emphasis on awareness of the risk of concurrent partners in STD and HIV transmission; appendix on reproductive anatomy and physiology; specific steps for teaching about condom use and advice on adaptation if necessary; and colorful classroom posters for use in teaching skills
For the libertarians out there, rest assured that parents can excuse their children from certain lessons on methods of birth control – but the city administration is taking a good hard look at facts and statistics and recognize that many teenagers are sexually active. The new sex ed mandate aims to reach students at several key points (6th or 7th grade, then again in 9th or 10th grade) to teach them about safe sex “in the hopes of reducing pregnancy, disease and dropouts.”
I’m pumped for NYC. I think its a solid step in the right direction, and I’m frankly disappointed that this kind of education isn’t happening all over the country. Proper sex education, in my opinion, is a crucial starting point to solving many of America’s problems. When people are equipped and empowered to make choices about when to become sexually active, how to protect themselves or prevent pregnancies – they are equipped to make other responsible life choices. We’ll have fewer unwanted pregnancies, healthier mothers and babies, lower dropout rates, less debt, a lesser burden on the state, more college graduates and a better educated society.
This post brought to you by Tara, who’s interested in getting her hands on some of those colorful classroom posters