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Thursday, September 13, 2012

New York Sex Education Slammed as Primitive

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From Courthouse New Service - Sept 13: 2012

By ADAM KLASFELD

 MANHATTAN (CN) - Many New York schools teach incomplete, moralizing and offensive sex-education lessons that put young people at risk, a new study found.

     The New York Civil Liberties Union's report, "Birds, Bees and Bias: How Absent Sex Ed Standards Fail New York's Students," profiles the sex-ed materials that 82 statewide school districts used between 2009 and 2011.

     New York City, which recently adopted a citywide mandate, was excluded from the study.

     The report found that nearly two-thirds of New York school districts avoided any reference to female genitalia, and one called the vagina a "sperm deposit."

     Another district that dubbed the penis a "sperm gun" described the vagina as "penis fits in here," the report states.

     Nearly 80 percent of the districts taught students about condoms, but just about a third showed students how to use one, the NYCLU said.

     HIV education appeared in 93 percent of curricula, but it was complete and accurate only 56 percent of the time, according to the study.

     "Most districts did not teach information about bullying (63 percent), and many did not teach about sexual harassment (42 percent), sexual assault or rape (28 percent)," the NYCLU said.

     NYCLU assistant advocacy director Johanna Miller called the results "shocking."

     "We found lessons that contained glaring inaccuracies about basic anatomy, reinforced negative gender stereotypes, and stigmatized LGBT students and families," Miller said in a statement. "Many school districts do little to educate students on how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections and sexual assault. Rigorous, binding statewide standards are essential to fix these rampant failures."

     Education for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning, or LGBTQ, students fared even worse, according to the report.

     More than half of school districts avoided discussion of sexual orientation, the NYCLU found.

     A "commonly used textbook" teaches only "traditional marriage," which it defined as "an emotional, spiritual and legal commitment a man and woman make to one another," the group added.

     NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman called for binding, statewide standards to bring the curricula up to date.

     "Every day in public schools across the state, students receive sex-ed instruction that leaves them unprepared to make healthy, informed choices about sex," Lieberman said in a statement. "New York must reverse this failure and ensuring that our schools provide comprehensive, medically accurate and age-appropriate and bias-free sex ed."

     State and federal statistics demonstrate the need for such reform, the ACLU emphasized.

     "According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 44.5 percent of New York's male high school students and 39.6 percent of female students are sexually active - but 1-in-3 sexually active boys report that they don't use condoms, and about 8-in-10 sexually active girls say they don't take birth control pills," the NYCLU summarizes. "According to the New York State Department of Health, about 1-in-3 of new sexually transmitted infections diagnosed in New York each year occurs among residents 19 and younger."

     Given the overwhelming support for sex education among New York voters, such reform would be politically popular, the NYCLU said.

     More than three-fourths of constituents supported sex education in public schools in unspecified polls in 2009 and 2011, according to the group.

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