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New York City Mandates Sex Education for Public Schools
"We are thrilled that the New York City Department of Education has taken an historic step in issuing a mandate for sex education – beginning this fall, all public middle and high schools will be required to teach one semester each of sex education.
In our 2010 report on the state of sex education in New York City public schools, interviews with parents, teachers, and—most importantly—students themselves revealed how sex education in New York City is inconsistent, with many schools failing to give students the information they need to prevent unintended pregnancies and STIs, make informed and healthy decisions, and keep themselves safe. Our years of experience working directly with New York City youth through our TORCH peer sexuality education program supports these findings: sexual health knowledge differs from school to school, and sometimes from classroom to classroom.
This mandate will standardize the loose patchwork approach that has allowed too many students to fall through the cracks for too long.
As groundbreaking as this mandate may be, it should be the beginning and not the end of the city’s efforts to provide students with the comprehensive, age-appropriate, medically-accurate sexuality education they need. Just as with other subjects taught in school, sex education requires more than merely two semesters over the course of adolescence. It requires reinforcement throughout the years, to reflect developmental changes, new sexual experiences, and rapidly changing information on contraceptive technologies.
This mandate is an historic start, but it is not a silver bullet. We still have a long way to go in arming students in New York City with the information they need to make healthy life decisions and decrease sexual and reproductive health disparities."