By Michael Benjamin
Mayor Michael Bloomberg continued his openness to premature sexual activity by adolescents by publicly airing his disagreement with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' decision to place age-limits on the availability of Plan B One-Step, the so-called "morning-after" contraceptive, to minor girls. Mayor Bloomberg said, “We’ve had many, too many, unwed births in this country. It would be much better if these young girls didn’t get pregnant.” Others would argue that it would be better if these young girls didn't get engage in sexual intercourse in the first place.
Over the counter access to Plan B One-Step, as Mayor Bloomberg and his Planned Parenthood allies prefer would enable sexually active girls as young as 11 to "self-abort" after unprotected sex. But Plan B would not protect against STDs, STIs or HIV/AIDS. "We do, in the city, a lot to try to teach people and inform them of the consequences of being parents and the responsibilities and it would be much better if young girls didn’t get pregnant, but once that happens, I think that this should be available to anybody," Bloomberg said.
In the above statement, Mayor Bloomberg seems to endorse using Plan B as a post-coital contraceptive. I think he's advocating that once young teenagers have sexual intercourse, they should freely avail themselves of the "morning-after" pill. So what's to stop pre-adolescents and adolescents from having sex, if consequences, other than an STI, can be washed away with a pill?
And is he admitting that distributing 40 million free NYC condoms every year isn’t working?
On this one, New Yorkers should trust the prudent judgment of President Obama and Secretary Sebelius. And you should contact Mayor Bloomberg to urge him to withdraw his one-size-fits-all sexuality education mandate in favor of permitting parents to opt their children into an abstinence-centered sex education curriculum.
Please spread the word to your friends, family, constituents, on your blogs, on your Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, etc.
Here is a sample script.
"As a parent/community leader, I am calling [or writing] to express my strong support for a City Council Education Committee hearing on the Education Department's implementation of the sex education mandate in its current form. While I agree with the goals of a sex education program, namely the reduction of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections among teens, I find the material in the so-called 'comprehensive' curriculum offensive.
I, and many other parents, would prefer an alternative program which focuses on abstinence as the healthiest choice and encourages children to wait at least until they are adults before becoming sexually active.
I want parents to be able to opt their children out of inappropriate comprehensive sex education classes and into an alternative evidence-based abstinence-centered program more in line with common sense and community values and beliefs.
I respectfully ask Councilman Jackson to please hold a committee hearing. Thank you."
Please call or email immediately. Our children and families need your direct action.
Let us know when you have made your call or sent your email.
By Michael Benjamin
In the past week, we have discovered that we are not alone in our fight here in New York City. When we started NYC Parents Choice, we had no idea of the faint echoes reverberating around the state. Communities across our state are rising up against so-called “comprehensive” sex education classes that disparage abstinence and encourage teen sexual involvement.
One mother in Clifton Park, NY told us of a teenager who was ridiculed by a guest Planned Parenthood lecturer standing up for abstinence. The PP representative said that the teen was living in the “dinosaur age.” He said that abstinence takes many acceptable forms including, “dry humping,” “anal and oral sex.”
When the parent sought to get answers about her daughter’s mistreatment in the health class, she was rudely dismissed by the health ed teacher. This mother took her subsequent complaints about the nature of the comprehensive sex education class to the school board. The school board denied her request to discuss the curriculum in an open, public meeting.
In Rochester, NY, the Rochester City School Board plans to implement a comprehensive sex education program to deal with rising rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Parents there are organizing to oppose this decision and to demand that school officials to offer abstinence-centered education instead.
We will offer our support and guidance to parents in these two communities and beyond in their battle to bring parental choice in sex education curriculum. Community values should have a bearing on what sex education materials are introduced in our public schools.
As you know, we don't oppose teaching sex education. NYC Parents’ Choice wants the City Education Department to give parents the choice of an "opt-in" abstinence-based sex ed curriculum.
A new mandate that will require New York public middle and high schools to implement sex education classes providing graphic details and descriptions of various sexual acts has the Christian movement "True Love Waits" calling for an abstinence alternative to the programs.
The movement, created by LifeWay Christian Resources, "challenges teenagers and college students to make a commitment to sexual abstinence until marriage" and "utilizes positive peer pressure by encouraging those who make a commitment to refrain from pre-marital sex to challenge their peers to do the same," according to its website.
"Although True Love Waits is not directly involved in school abstinence programs, our team has long recognized that education is the first step in leading students to make a commitment to refrain from sex until marriage," said "True Love Waits" spokeswoman Dawn Cornelius in a statement.
"We owe it to students to give them a positive message about the benefits of remaining abstinent until they get married, and to warn them about the physical and emotional consequences that can result from pre-marital sex."
Many Christian parents and organizations are behind the movement for an abstinence alternative program, and some say that although many politicians and school officials claim that these types of programs do not work, this is simply not true.
"It's wrong to force them [parents] to choose between what the city is planning and no sex education at all," said former Democratic Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, who is heading the NYC Parents' Choice Coalition that is pushing for the abstinence-based alternative.
"Parents who want a more traditional, abstinence-based sex education curriculum for their children should be able to have that."
The NYC Parents' Choice Coalition cites research on its website showing that certain abstinence programs have had a significant effect in lowering sexual activity among teens and states that, contrary to popular belief, the programs do provide information about birth control.
"Special interests will tell you that abstinence centered programs constitute 'sticking our heads in the sand' by providing students no information about contraceptive methods, but again, this is simply not true," the website says. "Many abstinence-centered programs contain plenty of information about contraceptive methods: how frequently they fail to protect young people from pregnancy and STDs, and how condoms provide limited protection against HPV and herpes. These are real-world, medically accurate facts that should influence a child's decision about whether he or she should be sexually active outside a long-term mutually monogamous relationship such as marriage."
Christian Post Contributor
By Greg Pfundstein
This week, the NYC sex ed mandate became national news. We were helped by an op-ed in the New York Times last week, an article in the NY Post on Sunday, the extensive coverage of our press conference on Monday in Bay Ridge, and the NY Post’s editorial on the issue on Tuesday. There were links to stories about the mandate on the Drudge Report, and national radio personalities covered the news for multiple days. Members of the coalition have made and will continue to make appearances on local and national television. The message that parents deserve a choice is getting out!
With all this attention, the City has been on defensive all week. Their primary strategy has been twofold: first, to argue with a position we are not promoting, namely that there should be no sex ed of any kind in the schools, and second, that the outrageous materials which we have publicized will not be used in the school. The third argument that is being made, now as always, by the city’s apologists is that abstinence education doesn’t work. So let’s briefly answer each of those arguments and dispel the misinformation.
First, we are not opposed to sex ed in schools. While we think it is extremely important that parents be allowed to opt out completely if they think that is what is best for their kids, we think parents deserve to have the school teaching sex ed that is medically accurate, evidence based, and based on a healthy and normal understanding of human sexuality. That is why we are demanding an alternative abstinence curriculum be allowed under the mandate. Since abstinence education has been proven to work (more below), we don’t think the programs allowed in schools should be subjected to an ideological test instead of an evidence test. If the program has been proven to be effective, it shouldn’t be excluded because it doesn’t meet the ideological requirements of Planned Parenthood and NARAL.
Second, this is pretty straightforward. You can visit the DOE’s website here, and you will find the recommended curricula. If you follow the links from the DOE page and purchase the curricula, you will get Health Smart and Reducing the Risk. The Health Smart middle school abstinence teacher’s manual refers teachers to goaskalice.com on page 9 for help with answering students questions. It also refers teachers to the Health Facts books which are part of the curriculum and which refer students and teachers to goaskalice.com. As for the outrageous homework assignments, right there in the Reducing the Risk student workbook is the condom shopping assignment, the visit a clinic assignment, etc. These things are in the recommended curricula, plain and simple.
As for the City’s clarification that it doesn’t require these curricula be used but just any condom based program, they are opening a teeming can of worms. For instance, there is the Be Proud! Be Responsible! curriculum which tells 13 year old children that showering together is a “green light” activity. Reducing the Risk is the best condom-based program on the market, and the City should stick with defending that.
Finally, there is the claim that abstinence education doesn’t work. It just isn’t true. There are over twenty programs that have been shown in rigorous independent evaluations to have a statistically significant effect on delaying sexual debut, and in the cases where they have measured for it, there is no difference in condom use between kids in abstinence programs and comprehensive programs. Besides, you can’t claim that it is impossible to teach kids to be abstinent and that the Reducing the Risk program does it. In fact, Reducing the Risk has not been shown to increase condom use, only to delay sexual debut. Since that is the case, why can’t we have an alternative program that will do the same thing, minus all the offensive material. Parents who want their kids shopping for condoms and visiting clinics can have that; the rest of us can have an equally effective program.
Those are the major points to keep in mind as the coverage of this battle continues. Don’t forget to call the Mayor and the Chancellor to demand an alternative!
The NYC Parents' Choice Coalition continues to gain steam, and on Monday, October 24, we will meet in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, to let the Mayor and the Chancellor know that we are not giving up. If you agree with us that parents should have a choice when it comes to what their kids learn about sex in school, consider joining us at noon at P.S. 104, 9115 Fifth Ave, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, 11209. Spread the word! We are hoping that we will be joined by several elected officials and a large crowd, so if you can make it, we would love to have you join us.
Also, if you haven't seen it yet, you should check out Proffessor George's op-ed in the New York Times this week.
Enjoy the weekend, and hopefully we will see you on Monday in Bay Ridge.
By Greg Pfundstein
Last week here on the NYC Parents Choice Blog, we discussed the evidence from program evaluation that shows that abstinence education works. This week I want to focus not on the evidence provided by evaluations of programs, but on the evidence provided by application of programs in the real world. Fortunately, we have a case study in the UK.
In the late 1990’s the Labour Government in the UK set itself the goal of halving the teen pregnancy rate by 2010. To this end, they instituted mandatory sex education in schools that focused on condom and contraception use, and also provided free contraception, abortion, and emergency contraception to kids without letting their parents know. This is exactly the philosophy that motivates Mayor Bloomberg’s sex ed mandate: more contraception will solve the problem. So if now, more than a decade after the UK implemented this policy, the Bloomberg administration is implementing it here in New York City, it must be because it was such a success in the UK, right?
Wrong. In fact, the pregnancy rate remains virtually unchanged in the UK, and has risen for teenagers under 16. Meanwhile, the abortion rate has increased, and the rates of sexually transmitted diseases have gone through the roof. And it only cost 300 million pounds (almost $473,000,000). One UK government official said in 2007, “What we actually need is for family-led organisations, and local communities and the voluntary sector to work together on these problems.” The Telegraph, in an August 2010 editorial, called the program “a sexual disaster for teenagers and society.” In that editorial the editors made this strong point: “Moreover, parents must be part of the process, not kept in ignorance: evidence from America shows that their involvement helps to reduce teenage pregnancy rates. This is because it is the family, above all, that is the key here.” Read more here, here and here.
Parents deserve the right to opt their children out of failed programs and into common sense alternatives that will help protect their children from disease. That’s what the NYC Parents’ Choice Coalition is all about.