New York: State AIDS Education Progresses From Kindergarten Training in Hygiene to High School Classes in Sexuality
June 12, 2006
In 1991, the state Education Department established regulations requiring public schools across New York to provide age-appropriate instruction about HIV/AIDS from kindergarten through 12th grade. The guidelines require school districts to name an advisory council to make recommendations concerning content, implementation, and evaluation of an AIDS instructional program. The panel must be comprised of parents, school board members, select school personnel, and community members such as religious groups.
According to the guidelines, the material must focus on the nature of HIV/AIDS and methods of transmission and prevention. Abstinence must be stressed as the most appropriate and effective prevention against the disease. Students may be excused from the lessons provided a parent or guardian has submitted a written request that includes assurances that the student will receive AIDS instruction at home.
Angela Barca, who oversees health instruction for the Plainview-Old Bethpage district on Long Island, said the youngest students are taught simply about keeping hands clean and not touching others' blood. Then in middle school, teachers add decision-making to the lessons. They discuss how body fluids such as semen can cause infection. By the time students reach high school, they learn more about sexuality and hear from HIV-positive guest speakers.
"It is very slowly introduced, year by year," said Barca, highlighting the importance of not overwhelming students. "It's a reminder each year."
School districts have some leeway in choosing how to implement AIDS education. For example, in 1995 Roslyn became one of the first suburban districts in the nation to provide condoms to students as long as their parents did not object and the students had completed a sex education course. State regulations require that districts distributing condoms advise students of the risks of disease transmission and of misuse of condoms.
Newsday (New York)
06.06.06; Jennifer Sinco Kelleher
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.