Sex Education in New York State by sqb19362


									   C H O I C E
                                                   Voice                                                     News from
                                                                                                             Planned Parenthood
                                                                                                             of New York City
                                                                                                             November, 2006


Sex Education in
New York State
Why do our kids need sex ed in school?
Currently, our young people are not getting the information they need to
protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unintended
pregnancy. In fact, the teen pregnancy rate in the United States is more than
nine times higher than that in the Netherlands, nearly four times higher than
the rate in France, and nearly five times higher than that in Germany. And
                                                                                    How can I talk about sex education?
rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in New York State         Our kids’ health is at risk.
are among that highest in the country. New York City’s teen pregnancy rate is       ■   The U.S. has the highest rates of teen
more than double the New York State rate and is nearly 30% higher than the              pregnancy in the western industrialized world,
U.S. rate. Clearly, we need to do better.                                               and New York City has some of the highest
                                                                                        rates of teen pregnancy and sexually trans-
What is currently being taught in our schools?                                          mitted infections (STIs) in the country.
Shockingly, sex ed is no longer standard in our schools—some students
                                                                                    Our children are not getting the information
get great sex ed, many get unproven “abstinence-only-until-marriage”
                                                                                    they need.
programs, and most get no sex ed at all. In fact, fewer and fewer students
                                                                                    ■   Currently the federal government only
are getting the real, comprehensive sex ed that we expect. The only federal
                                                                                        provides funding for abstinence-only-until-
funding for sex ed in the U.S. goes to abstinence-only-until-marriage
                                                                                        marriage programs, and allocates no money
programs. These programs cannot discuss birth control except to cite failure            for real sex ed that includes information on
rates, and can’t recommend using condoms to prevent STDs. To date, over                 abstinence as well as birth control.
$1 billion has been spent on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.
                                                                                    The government is spending tax dollars on
What does “abstinence-only-until-marriage” really                                   unproven programs.
mean?                                                                               ■   There is no study that proves that abstinence-
                                                                                        only-until-marriage programs work. There
To receive funds under any of the federal programs, abstinence-only-until-
                                                                                        are several studies that prove that compre-
marriage programs must have as their “exclusive purpose” teaching the
                                                                                        hensive sex education does work.
benefits of abstinence. Now, let’s be clear: Planned Parenthood isn’t opposed
to teaching abstinence; in fact, Planned Parenthood believes abstinence is a        Our students deserve accurate information.
critical component of any comprehensive sex education curriculum. It’s the          ■   Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs
“abstinence-ONLY” that we take issue with.                                              are biased, inaccurate, and often religious
                                                                                        in nature.
The single message in these programs is that abstinence until marriage is
the only way to prevent pregnancy and disease. Therefore, programs are
required to censor critical information that teens need to protect themselves
from STDs and pregnancy.
                                                                                                               PLANNED PARENTHOOD
                                                              continued next page                              1-800-230-PLAN
    In 1996 the federal Welfare Reform Law created a strict definition of abstinence education.
    The definition has 8 points:
    For the purposes of this section, the term “abstinence education” means an educational or motivational program which:

     A     has as its exclusive purpose teaching the social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from
           sexual activity;

     B     teaches abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage as the expected standard for all school-age children;

     C     teaches that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted
           diseases, and other associated health problems;

     D     teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of
           sexual activity;

     E     teaches that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects;

     F     teaches that bearing children out-of-wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child’s parents,
           and society;

     G     teaches young people how to reject sexual advances and how alcohol and drug use increase vulnerability to sexual
           advances, and

     H     teaches the importance of attaining self-sufficiency before engaging in sexual activity.

Despite years of evaluation, there is currently no evidence that these pro-
                                                                                         Proposed Legislation in New York State:
grams have any long-term effects. In fact, a 2004 Congressional report
found that many of the federally funded abstinence-only programs in use
                                                                                                 The Healthy Teens Act
contained false or misleading information about reproductive health.
                                                                                        The Healthy Teens
                                                                                        Act would create
If you carefully consider each part of the federal government’s 8-point
                                                                                        a competitive grant
definition of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs (above), you will
                                                                                        program for
see that these programs teach that students who have already had sex,
                                                                                        comprehensive sex
who have been sexually abused, or who live in single-parent or same-sex
households are considered at fault and at risk for harmful psychological                education in New
and physical effects. At best, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs                  York state. Currently,
completely ignore gay and lesbian youth, and at worst they promote                      New York state has
explicitly homophobic messages.                                                         no dedicated fund-
                                                                                        ing stream for effective comprehensive pro-
What do studies show?                                                                   grams, and education can vary greatly between
                                                                                        school districts. This bill would even the playing
No research has proven that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs                     field and help our children get all the facts they
actually work.                                                                          need for a healthy future.
What’s more, there’s actually research to show they can be harmful. While
studies show that students who sign virginity pledges are more likely to
                                                              continued next page
delay sex for a short period of time, they’re also less likely to use contracep-
tion when they do have sex, exposing themselves to an increased risk of
unintended pregnancy and STDs, including HIV.

What the research does show is that more than 60 percent of high school
seniors are sexually active. Sexually active teens have the highest rates of
many STDs and are estimated to account for nearly half of new HIV infec-
tions. The numbers are troubling, and a solution is urgent, but abstinence-
only programs have not been proven to be effective tools to combat these

Do people support real sex education in our schools?
                                                                                   Proposed Federal Legislation: the REAL Act
Yes. New Yorkers support a comprehensive approach to sex education—
77% of New York voters believe that age-appropriate, medically accurate
sex education should be taught in New York’s public schools (Lake Research,        In 2005, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) and
March 2006). Nearly nine in ten voters agree that all students should have         Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the
information about contraception and the prevention of sexually transmitted         Responsible Education about Life (REAL) Act in
diseases. This support cuts across all demographic and religious groups. In        Congress. The bill, formerly called the Family Life
                                                                                   Education Act, would provide federal money to
fact, 90% of Catholics surveyed support sex education.
                                                                                   support responsible sex education in schools.
                                                                                   This education would include science-based,
What can I do?                                                                     medically accurate, and age-appropriate public
■   Call your New York State Senator and tell her or him to pass the Healthy       health information about both abstinence and
    Teens Act. Call the switchboard at (518) 455-2800 or visit www.senate.         also contraception and condoms.
                                                                                   The REAL Act would allocate $206 million a year
■   Send a letter to your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative urging support     over five years to allow states to implement
    of the REAL Act. Visit and to find out their      comprehensive approaches to sex education in
    addresses.                                                                     the schools.
■   Find out what kind of sex education is being taught in your school in your
    neighborhood—you can learn more from your school’s Parent Coordinator.         For more information and to take action on the
                                                                                   REAL Act, visit
■   Ask young people you know what they are learning in school.

Where can I learn more about the issue?
These websites offer helpful information on policy, legislation, content, and
funding for sex education in our schools:
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States:
No New Money for Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs:
Get the Facts NY Campaign:
Planned Parenthood:
  Can These Programs Really Be So Bad?                                                About Get the Facts New York

                                                                                The “Get the Facts NY” campaign supports the right
  Yes! We are not making this stuff up. In fact, here                           of every young person to access the information and
  are some quotes from curricula that are in some                               develop the skills necessary to make safe and responsible
                                                                                choices about his or her sexual health. Get the Facts NY
  way supported by federal funds:                                               advocates for medically accurate, age-appropriate sex
                                                                                education for youth in New York State. Get the Facts NY
  ■ “The first player spins the cylinder, points the gun to his/her head,
                                                                                represents a broad
  and pulls the trigger. He/she has only one in six chances of being
                                                                                constituency of young
  killed. But if one continues to perform this act, the chamber with the
                                                                                people and their parents,

  bullet will ultimately fall into position under the hammer, and the
                                                                                education professionals,
  game ends as one of the players dies. Relying on condoms is like
                                                                                health care providers,
  playing Russian roulette.”
                                                                                religious leaders, child
                                                    Me, My World, My Future,
                                                                                and health advocates,
                                                 revised HIV material, p. 258
                                                                                and policy organizations.      sex ed
  ■   “Watch what you wear, if you don’t aim to please, don’t aim to tease.”
                                      Sex Respect, Student Workbook, p. 82
                                                                                Members of the
                                                                                Campaign are
                                                                                                            saves lives.
                                                                                engaged in many
  ■   [One of the best ways to avoid AIDS is to] “avoid homosexual behavior.”   advocacy and organ-                                .org
                                       Sex Respect, Student Workbook, p. 25     izing activities to
                                                                                raise public awareness and educate our
  ■ “For condoms to be used properly, over 10 specific steps must               elected officials about the need for comprehensive
  be followed every time. This tends to minimize the romance and                sex education in New York. Our legislative agenda is
  spontaneity of the sex act.”                                                  currently focused on passing the Healthy Teens Act,
                                 Choosing the Best, Student Manual, p. 25       a bill that will establish funding for school districts,
                                                                                community organizations, and school-based health
  ■ “What if a girl came to school in a crop top, just barely covering her      centers to provide medically accurate, age-appropriate
  bra, and shorts starting three inches below her naval? What ‘game’            sex education programs.
  would she be playing?”
                                    WAIT Training, Workshop Manual, p. 86       The Healthy Teens Act (see page 2) also attempts to
                                                                                strengthen partnerships between schools and well-
  ■ “Many homosexual activists are frustrated and desperate over their          established community-based educational organiza-
  own situation and those of loved ones. Many are dying, in part, due to        tions. Funds would be distributed locally, allowing
  ignorance. Educators who struggle to overcome ignorance and instill           schools, school districts, and communities to select
  self-mastery in their students will inevitably lead them to recognize         responsible, age-appropriate programs. So far the bill
  that some people with AIDS are now suffering because of the choices           has passed the Assembly for two years in a row. In
  they made.”                                                                   2006, the Health Committee of the New York State
                               Facing Reality, Parent-Teacher Guide, p. 19      Senate gave the Healthy Teens Act a favorable report,
                                                                                but the Senate failed to vote on the bill before their
                                                                                session ended. The Healthy Teens Act will continue to be
                                                                                a priority for Planned Parenthood of New York City in

                                                                                If your organization is interested in joining the
                                                                                Campaign, please contact Planned Parenthood at
                                                                                (212) 274-7290. Individuals can sign up to be part of
                                                                                the Campaign at

News from Planned Parenthood of New York City                                                                      November, 2006

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