New Sex-Ed Curriculum in NY Schools Upsets Parents

Instructions on how to properly use a condom, and questions about things such as oral sex and bestiality are slated to be part of the curriculum in New York City schools starting next year – causing protest from some parents.

“The philosophy is to tell children to abstain from sex but to use condom if they have it,” said Executive Director Greg Pfundstein of the Chiaroscuro Foundation, which aims to enlighten people about God. “But kids will only hear use a condom.”

The new curriculum contains a large deal of material many parents find objectionable. For instance, high school students will be asked to visit drug stores and bodegas to catalog condom brands, types and prices. They’ll also be asked to map out routes to the nearest health clinics that offer birth control and testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and will have to write down their confidentiality policies.

Michael Benjamin, the former state assemblyman and executive director of the New York City Parents’ Choice Coalition, said in a press conference Monday that it’s wrong teenage girls could get an abortion without parental consent but not oral surgery.

One highly contested element of the new curriculum is its inclusion of Columbia University’s Go Ask Alice Web site as a reference tool. The site explores sex- and health-related topics. Although it covers such subjects as sadomasochism, bestiality and pornography, it also deals with underarm staph infections.

Parents can choose to opt their children out of this new curriculum. But they’re still not satisfied.

“We want children to have sex education,” said Benjamin. “We want to teach abstinence, children to respect each other and that condoms aren’t 100 percent effective.”

The New York City Parents’ Choice Coalition isn’t asking schools to do away with the new curriculum completely, but for an additional option that would allow parents to be more involved in teaching their children about sex.

This doesn’t calm the fears of Youn Hee Pare, who has three children, all of whom were home-schooled. Although two of her children continue to be, her eldest daughter is Brooklyn Technical High School, where she will undoubtedly be taught sex education.

“I’ve told my daughter that sex is a beautiful thing and nothing to be ashamed of,” she said. “But it should be between a husband and wife.”

Pare doesn’t like that her daughter will be taught about anal and oral sex. “I want freedom from these things being put in my children’s head,” she complained. “We should have the freedom to educate our children.”

Chancellor Dennis Walcott of New York City’s Department of Education mentioned in a statement that a third of new chlamydia cases in New York are among teenagers, which indicates that they’ve had multiple sexual partners. He asked that people not ignore the facts.

“Abstinence is a very important part of the curriculum, but we also have a responsibility to ensure that teenagers who are choosing to have sex understand the potential consequences of their actions and know how to keep themselves safe,” he said. “So we need a comprehensive curriculum.”

(Written Oct. 26, 2012 for Reporting and Writing Class)