Yes Please: New York’s Sex Ed Mandate

Last week, Mayor Bloomberg announced a new mandate that requires NYC’s public middle and high schools to teach their students a semester of sex ed, with a curriculum that includes contraception usage (and a choice for parents to opt out).The new mandate is part of a broader strategy to improve the lives of Black and Latino teenagers, who according according to city statistics, are far more likely than their white counterparts to have unplanned pregnancies and STDs. No statistics on API rates were given in the NYT article, but a 2010 Boston University study suggested that API female teens had higher rates of STDs than white females, and a 4:1 ratio to Asian males (find out more information at STD testing in San Diego).

I just caught coverage of this NY mandate on FOX News (I was in a particularly masochistic mood) and hoooo boy. It was what you’d expect. Opponents felt junior high kids would be “confused, misinformed and vulnerable”, that they “don’t have the right wiring to process (sex ed)” and that “parents should be the primary educators”. Still towing that old pro-abstinence and anti-risk reduction line, even though $1.5 billion has been spent on abstinence-based sex ed and studies have shown it to be totally ineffective.

Even though teen pregnancy rates have declined in NYC by 75% (which is attributed to contraception that many NYC schools already provide), FOX News host Laura Ingraham still insisted that abortions (in which she includes the day-after pill. Seriously.) must have skyrocketed because the lowered teen pregnancy rate is due to “babies being flushed away”. Keep it Classy, Laura.

Personally, growing up in an Asian American household, the subject of sex was as rare as a brown person working the sales floor at Abercrombie & Fitch. The most I learned about sex at home was that if I was having it, I was getting my ass whupped.

So I thank Jeebus I had F.L.A.S.H. sex ed — even if it was a bit shoddy — in my public schools. If it wasn’t for cringing while my 7th grade science teacher bawdily rolled a condom onto a banana or the slideshows of elephantitus of the nuts in Health class, I really don’t know where I would have educated myself about the perils and pleasures (OK mostly perils) of the carnal. Actually, I do know — and it would have been from other 12-year-olds, which means I would believe I should never swim in a co-ed pool again. And although I didn’t have the er, occasion to exercise such public-school-provided education, if I was a normal lusty 17-year-old who didn’t hole up in her room devouring Elfquest, I woulda been shit outta luck when it came to avoiding a case of the babehs and the herps.

Knowledge is power, y’all. Teens and young adults are gonna fuck anyway, America should get real and follow NYC’s example when it comes to protecting our kids’ dangly bits.

Thanks Louie!


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