Starting this year, middle and high school students in New York City will be required to take Sex Education classes, a first in nearly two decades.
The classes, which are part of a larger initiative by the Bloomberg administration to improve the lives of Black and Latino youths, will cover everything from how to use a condom, the appropriate age for sexual activity, and sexually transmitted diseases. Because Black and Latino teens have higher unplanned pregnancy and STD rates than their White counterparts, many say this is exactly what the city needs.
“It’s obviously something that applies to all boys and all girls,” Linda I. Gibbs, the deputy mayor for health and human services, told the New York Times. “But when we look at the biggest disadvantages that kids in our city face, it is blacks and Latinos that are most affected by the consequences of early sexual behavior and unprotected sex.”
The classes will be taught to children in the 6th or 7th grade, and again in the 9th or 10th grade. Although some may worry that teaching kids about sex will prompt them to become sexually active, the most prevalent type of sex education, abstinence-only education, isn’t working either.
Parents who disagree with the curriculum will be able to opt-out of having their children learn about birth control options, but all students will learn about anatomy, puberty, pregnancy, and the risks of unprotected sex.
Although sex education may be scary to some adults, arming youth with the information needed to prevent pregnancy–and possibly save their lives–is as important as learning math or science.