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PPNYC Applauds Decision; Next Step is to Require Sex Education to be Taught Every Year in Every Grade (8/10/11)
(New York, NY)—Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC) praised the city’s announcement today that New York City will now require sex education to be taught to both middle and high school students.
“As longtime sex educators, we are pleased to see the city finally taking action on this important issue,” said Joan Malin, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City. “For far too long, too many of New York’s young people have been missing out on this vital information.”
The city will require schools to teach students a semester of sex education in 6th or 7th grade, and again in 9th or 10th grade, and will provide two suggested curricula as well as training for teachers. The requirement also gives parents the opportunity to opt their children out of the program.
“Comprehensive sex education is a lifelong process,” said Malin. “It includes the basics, such as hygiene and anatomy, as well as encouragement of parent-child communication, workshops on healthy relationships, and other vital information to keep our young people safe and healthy. The requirement to teach two years of sex education is a great first step, but the reality is that if we want to really protect our young people, we need to integrate good, effective, comprehensive, and age-appropriate sex education into every grade in every year of school.”
Although New York has had a recommended sex education curriculum for years, comprehensive sex education has not been a mandatory part of New York City school education. This is despite voters’ support for the subject: in 2009, a study conducted by Hart Research Associates on behalf of Family Planning Advocates of New York State found that not only did 85% of New Yorkers want comprehensive sex education to be taught in schools, but a full 77% of registered voters in New York State mistakenly thought that sex ed was already a part of the required school curriculum.
“We have known for years that parents want sex education, and we know that comprehensive sex education keeps our young people healthy and safe,” said Malin. “New York City has historically had some of the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections, HIV, and teen pregnancy in the country. It’s about time we took proactive action, and made the health and safety of our young people a top priority.”
The New York City Department of Health reports that about one in three youth in grades 9-12 are currently sexually active, and nearly one in five report having had four or more sex partners so far in their lifetime. Yet, only two-thirds of New York City’s sexually active youth report using condoms at all, and one in five girls did not use any birth control the last time they had sex. Additionally, New York City’s AIDS case rate is three times the national average, and our rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes are far above the national averages, hitting youth between the ages of 15 and 24 the hardest.
“Planned Parenthood of New York City has been providing sex education to parents and teens for years,” said Malin. “We know the importance as well as the challenges of this work. What’s important now is that we ensure that schools and educators have the resources they need to provide our young people with the best comprehensive sex education possible.”
Since 1916, Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC) has been an advocate for and provider of reproductive health services and education for New Yorkers. Serving nearly 50,000 clients annually, PPNYC’s health care centers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island offer reproductive health services, including gynecological care, contraception, pregnancy testing, abortion, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and HIV testing and counseling. Through a threefold mission of clinical services, education, and advocacy, PPNYC brings better health and more fulfilling lives to each new generation of New Yorkers. As a voice for reproductive freedom, PPNYC supports legislation and policies to ensure that all New Yorkers—and, in fact, people around the world—will have access to the full range of reproductive health care services and information.