I plan to teach my kids about sex. In fact, I’m already doing it. In little ways and as they’re ready, I work lessons about health, sexuality and how bodies work into our daily conversations. Physical intimacy is special and our private bodies are private for a reason, but sex shouldn’t be something that’s scary or shameful. I also teach my kids to read and cook and conserve electricity. Not every parent teaches her kids these things. And where sex is concerned, New York City is stepping in to make sure that its schools are picking up the slack.
For the first time in 20 years, comprehensive sex education is going to be required in New York City middle and high schools starting this school year. The change is part of an effort by Mayor Bloomberg’s office to improve the lives of black and Latino teenagers, two groups hit hardest by the effects of early and unprotected sex.
There’s already opposition to the new mandate, religious groups and parents calling for abstinence-only sex education. The curriculum will require that students be taught how to use contraceptives including condoms, although families are permitted to opt out of the birth control portions of the class.
As someone who believes in abstinence before marriage for both moral and health reasons, I understand where groups like the Chiaroscuro Foundation are coming from. Abstinence is the only way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases 100% of the time.
However, I don’t believe it’s realistic to think that a health class will convince all the teenagers in New York City not to be sexually active. Kids need to understand how their bodies work, what sex is, and all the ways they can protect themselves physically, emotionally and mentally. Abstinence is the best way. But shouldn't we give them a backup plan?
The majority of New Yorkers, along with groups like Planned Parenthood, say, “Yes!” What do you think? Do you support comprehensive sex education in public schools?