City Schools Lack Sex Ed, But Parents Want It Taught

If you think your tax dollars are required to go toward lessons in sexual education for your school-age kids, you're not alone.

But you're wrong. 

More than 75 percent of New York voters mistakenly think sex ed is a part of the required school curriculum, while 85 percent want comprehensive sex education to be taught in school, according to a new study from Planned Parenthood of New York.

“The data is clear,” said Joan Malin, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City. “New Yorkers not only overwhelmingly want sex education, they think it’s already happening.” 

The study, conducted by Hart Research Associates, assessed New Yorkers' understanding of and attitudes toward reproductive health issues in the state. 

Neither the city nor the state require or fund comprehensive sex education to be taught in schools. Whether sex education is taught in the city, when it’s taught, how often and by whom is up to the resources of individual schools and the comfort and training levels of individual principals and teachers.

“With tight budgets and limited resources, many principals are already facing tough decisions about what gets left in or taken out," Malin said. "Since sex education isn’t required, all too often this essential subject is being left behind.” 

About one in three youth in grades 9-12 are currently sexually active, and nearly one in five report having had four or more sex partners so far in their lifetime, according to the city's health department. Yet, only two-thirds of New York City’s sexually active youth report using condoms at all, and one in five girls did not use any birth control the last time they had sex. 

The study overwhelmingly shows parents want comprehensive sex education in the schools, so Planned Parenthood launched its “We’re Going to the Principal’s Office” campaign to empower parents to ask principals to teach it. 

“We know sex education works, we know our kids need it, and we know New Yorkers want it taught in schools,” said Malin. “The only question left is ‘what are we waiting for?’”

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