Even in the most progressive areas, the anti-sex head-in-the-sand crowd seems to be taking over. New York City is introducing new sexual health education curriculum, and it’s a mixed bag. Some of it is good:
High schoolers will learn the difference between sexual harassment and flirting, how to set a sexual limit, and sexual refusal skills. Middle schoolers will learn about reproductive anatomy and the benefits of sexual abstinence.
But, not surprisingly, some of it isn’t so good:
The new curriculum doesn’t teach middle schoolers about birth control, for instance, or address sexual orientation except in the context of AIDS.
Even the good seems to be coming a little late — shouldn’t kids be learning the difference between sexual harassment and flirting well before high school? And shouldn’t they learn about reproductive anatomy before middle school? When 1 in 10 New York City public school students report having sex before the age of 13 — that’s right, 13 — it doesn’t make much sense to avoid teaching them about the naughty bits until they’re in 7th grade, and to not mention contraception until 9th.
The absense of discussion on sexual orientation is also disturbing — especially when it’s only mentioned in the context of AIDS. As Miriam Yeung, of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center, says, “When you don’t see info about your life, or your behaviors or your feelings, then you don’t practice any health-promoting behaviors.” And as the article points out, the majority of parents (79%) want their children to learn about sexual orientation in their health classes.
The new curriculum also prohibits condom demonstrations in classrooms, which is just plain dumb. Condoms are most effective when used correctly, so it would make sense that we teach people how to use them correctly. What’s troubling is that if this is happening in New York City — which is pretty overwhelmingly liberal — just imagine what kids in rural Texas are being taught.
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