I Heart NYC's Safe Sex Education Mandate
by Dr. Dorree Lynn
NYC + Safe Sex Education = Attention Getter!
If there were ever two topics that make my heart jump, they would be "New York City" and "Safe Sex" and when you put them in the same sentence, well, you've got my attention! You can imagine my excitement when I saw a post on Huffington Post this morning about New York City's Sex Education mandate. *(you can read the article here)
To sum up the article by Anna M. Phillips, NYC's public middle and high school students will be required to take sex-education classes which include lessons on how to use condoms, pregnancy and STD prevention and the appropriate age for sexual activity.
Now mind you, the new mandate is part of Bloomberg's attempt to improve the lives of black and Latino teenagers (a demographic that statistically experiences fare more unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases than their white counterparts). Whatever the reason, it's a step in the right direction for all demographics.
Anna. M. Phillips further explained in her article that, "Nationwide, one in four teenagers between 2006 and 2008 learned about abstinence without receiving any instruction in schools about contraceptive methods, according to the Guttmacher Institute." We all know that, as kids, we always did what we were told not to do, if for no other reason than because we were curious to find out why we shouldn't do it and what might happen if we did.
Teaching students abstinence without supplementing it with further information is like leaving the keys in your car and telling your child not to drive it, and not explaining that if they do drive it they need to keep the wheel straight, lay off the gas, use the brakes, and keep it under 70.
But the Big Apple is doing one better and taking it up a notch, in that way that New York has of one-upping everyone else. The city's new mandate exceeds the state's requirement that middle and high school students take at least one semester of health education classes and calls for schools to teach one semester in the 6th or 7th grade level and again in the 9th or 10th grade level. Double the education, double the chances of success!
I know what you're thinking: "Dr. Lynn, how does this fit into your message about safe sex education for older folks?" Actually everything! Stretch your imagination a bit. We desperately need the same types of programs for those over 50 who happen to be the fastest growing HIV/STD population in America. These are the same types of programs that adults need, not just in NYC. As I said, it's a step in the right direction. Mandating sexual education courses in middle and high schools starts the debate on whether or not sex should be taught in schools, and adults are typically the ones having the debate. Therefore, the topic and the message gets out there that safe sex is still a major issue. Additionally, parents and grandparents become engaged in the conversation, both with one another and with their kids/grandkids.
In the end, it's half about the public fight for safe sex education for the children that "are the future" of America, and half about the actual in-class education. And any action to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases is one worth fighting for!