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Prevention/Epidemiology

New York City Schoolbooks Badly Outdated on Sex Education

February 6, 2004

Yesterday at a state Assembly hearing, school officials said sex education lessons in New York City schools have not been updated in twenty years, and material for teens on HIV/AIDS are nearly ten years old. Teachers are either following an outdated curriculum or skipping sex education altogether.

Officials are working on the curriculum but have offered no timeline on its availability to students. According to Roger Platt, director of the Office of School Health, in 2002, nearly 10,000 city women under age 18 were pregnant, and 3,000 became mothers. Teenagers accounted for 114 new HIV cases.

State law requires schools to teach HIV/AIDS education to all students. High school health courses, though required, are often haphazard. Platt said a shortage of health teachers -- 196 for 1,200 schools -- makes it hard to offer quality classes. It is also difficult to get elementary teachers to sign up for the required 30 hours of training for sex education. "It's pretty hard to justify people investing 30 hours of their time to learn a 20-year-old curriculum," Platt said.

At least 75 percent of school districts violate government mandates for health education, including sex education and HIV/AIDS instruction, according to Assemblymember Scott Stringer, whose report, "Failing Grade: Health Education in New York City Schools," examined the issue.

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Assemblymember Steven Sanders said, "For too long people have relegated health education courses as the stepchild of the academic programs. It should be approached with a sense of urgency."

Planned Parenthood representatives said the primary focus of sex education had been abstinence. "We support abstinence," said spokesperson Carla Goldstein. "But should it be only abstinence?"

In 1993, Schools Chancellor Joseph Fernandez suggested the Rainbow Curriculum, which promoted tolerance for homosexuality and condom distribution in the schools. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the Christian Coalition objected strongly.

Back to other news for February 6, 2004

Adapted from:
New York Sun
02.06.04; Kathleen Lucadamo



  
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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.
 

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