In a column today, The Alliance Defense Fund’s David Cortman called New York City’s comprehensive sex education plan a case of “inmates running the asylum.” The city is “encouraging schools to use two vetted, evidence-based, age-appropriate, comprehensive sex ed curricula: HealthSmart and Reducing the Risk,” which “are providing the curricula for free, and offering training and technical assistance to schools on the implementation process.” The programs teach abstinence, but since they also include lessons about safe sex, right-wing groups like the ADF are enraged. Cortman argues that the highly reputable program is essentially “an orchestrated public school porn push”:
Nearly every week, I come across an article where parents in some community are in an uproar over school districts promoting inappropriate sexual materials to our kids. Whether it’s related to homosexual behavior or other age-inappropriate sexual issues, there seem be school districts across the land intent on sexualizing our kids.
Honestly, it’s as if there’s an orchestrated public school porn push taking place.
This week’s example can be found in a New York Post article concerning New York City schools. Under a mandatory “sex ed” curriculum, the department of education wants middle and high school students taught their version of the birds and the bees.
And look at what else they want to teach our 11 and 12 year olds – the students will be given “risk cards” to rate the “safety” of several activities, which include intercourse with a condom, mutual masturbation, oral sex and anal sex. (Did I mention that this was for 11 and 12 year olds?)
What about teenagers in high school? It gets worse. They’ll be required to go to stores and study condoms – brands, prices and features. And they’ll be referred to wholesome resources like Columbia University’s Go Ask Alice web site, which includes discussions on different sexual positions, sadomasochism, phone sex, porn stars and bestiality. Not kidding.
The alleged “justification” for this porn push, I mean “sex ed,” is to curb unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Really? Since when does telling kids to have sex reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and STDs?
In reality, it appears to be just another vehicle the government can use to sexualize our children.
Unsurprisingly, Cortman’s column is more grounded in right-wing ideology than factual accuracy.
Natalie Ravitz of the New York City Department of Education writes, in response to a report in the New York Post, that teenagers aren’t referred to Go Ask Alice or that middle school students will receive “risk cards”:
For example, contrary to what The New York Post reported, the risk card activity that 11 and 12 year olds will supposedly be doing is actually one of the lessons we removed from HealthSmart because we didn’t think it was age-appropriate.
Another error in their reporting — New York City DOE does not refer teens to resources such as Columbia University’s GoAskAlice.com website. GoAskAlice.com is listed in teacher materials as one of many in a list of possible resources that teachers can utilize for tips on answering questions on sexuality. We do not direct students to the website. But far be it for facts to get in the way of a good “XXX” headline.
Reducing the Risk is a research-based sex risk reduction curriculum that is shown to help delay the initiation of sexual intercourse, increase the use of contraception among teens who do initiate sexual intercourse, and increase parent-child communication about abstinence and contraception.
Both HealthSmart and Reducing the Risk emphasize that abstinence is the best way to avoid risk. Students are encouraged to talk to their families about these topics in the context of their family values. They both state that students should use protection correctly and consistently if they currently are or will choose to become sexually active later in their lives.