SexEd-Opt-Out-Button560     CATCH-Opt-Out-Button560

By Michael Benjamin

This week, NYC Parents Choice coalition took its grassroots campaign for an alternative medically accurate abstinence-centered sex education curriculum to the steps of City Hall. We were joined by Greg Pfundstein (Chiaroscuro Foundation), Rev. Michel Faulkner (New Horizon Church), Chaplain Viviana Hernandez (United Chaplains of NYS), Rev. Myrna Calderon, Father Peter Pomposello, and others.

After hearing from the assembled speakers, the City Hall press corps asked questions. A WNYC radio reporter tried questioning the effectiveness of an abstinence-based sex ed program by citing the out-of-wedlock pregnancy of Bristol Palin, daughter of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

The reporter seemed combative as he asked questions that seemed dismissive of abstinence as a sex education strategy. Another asked how likely are we to succeed given that NYC is a liberal bastion.

See the Your Free Press video coverage here.

Greg Pfundstein effectively described the city’s comprehensive sex ed program as a “wink and a nod” approval of teenage premarital sexual involvement. He described homework assignments requiring students to catalog condom varieties at local stores and to list services offered at family planning clinics as activities promoting – rather than avoiding— sexual involvement.

“We are not asking the city to stop offering sex education. We are asking the city to offer medically-accurate, evidence-based, abstinence-centered education as an alternative for parents who prefer it,” said Pfundstein.

Chaplain Viviana Hernandez scorned the sexualization of children in the popular media. Chaplain Hernandez said that the city’s comprehensive sex education program gives young people a false sense of security. She asked, “Would we use a parachute if it had a 15% failure rate?”

Rev. Faulkner warned that the “house is on fire” and our children need the kind of sex education that will save their lives. Give parents the best option and give our kids the best education possible. He cited young women in his church who want to know how to resist the pressure to have sex. These teens want their parents involved. The NYC Parents Choice campaign empowers parents to determine the outcome of this mandate.

WCBS News Radio’s Rich Lamb aired a fair and balanced report. He referred to our program as “sex education Plan B.” Listen to it here.

1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reported Greg Pfundstein’s rebuttal of Chancellor Walcott’s earlier response that we are sticking our heads in the sand.

El Diario-La Prensa was the only news outlet to report, both online and in print, about our robocall campaign, in English and Spanish, urging parents to call the city to demand an abstinence-based sex education curriculum. El Diario reported that the Department of Education did not return their call for a comment.

However, in a statement released to WNYC Radio, Chancellor Dennis Walcott, said there needs to be a consistent curriculum across the city that teaches about the merits of abstinence and also instructs students "how to keep themselves safe."

"The city has been using its current program, called 'Health Smart' and 'Reducing the Risk,' for several years at some schools, but it only became mandatory district-wide in August," Walcott said. "It’s produced by a California-based company that gets funding from the National Institutes of Health, among others."

Chancellor Walcott failed to disclose that ETR, the California-based company that produces the city’s comprehensive sex education curriculum, was once the publishing arm of Planned Parenthood before it was spun off. ETR, like its parent company, is invested in Planned Parenthood’s condom education agenda.

The NYC Parents Choice Coalition is taking a stand against the New York City sex education mandate. We represent parents who don't want their children sent to the corner drug store to catalogue condom brands, or to visit the nearest abortion clinic to inquire about its confidentially policy, or to be referred to a sexuality-explicit website.

 




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Check Out Our Poll on Attitudes toward NYC CATCH

Schools participating in the CATCH program

Press Release: NYC CATCH Program Poll

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Majority of NYC parents oppose CATCH; are open to proven abstinence education

New York-- Fifty-three percent of New Yorkers think that Department of Education should not be dispensing Plan B to high school students. A poll commissioned by the Chiaroscuro Foundation and conducted by Smith Johnson Research surveyed 600 New Yorkers on the New York City Department of Education’s controversial CATCH program, and on their opinions of abstinence education. Complete poll results are available at nycparentschoice.org.

“As usual, the Bloomberg administration and the Department of Education think they know better than NYC parents,” said Greg Pfundstein, Executive Director of the Chiaroscuro Foundation, “The DOE should end the CATCH program, which is supported by less than a third of New Yorkers surveyed in its current form. Of course, our expectations for a sensible policy change from DOE are low.”

The Chiaroscuro Foundation released the entire poll including the crosstabs for the sample of 600 and the crosstabs for the oversampled under 55 demographic which had a representative sample of 400. “There should be no question about the soundness of the methodology,” said Pfundstein.

“Not surprisingly, African American and Hispanic parents carry strong opposition to the CATCH program,” said Michael Benjamin, former NY Assemblyman and Executive Director of the Parents’ Choice Coalition.

  • 54% of Hispanic respondents believe the DOE should not be distributing Plan B to high school students, and only 27% support the current opt out system.
  • African-American opposition to CATCH is also high: 59% oppose distributing Plan B to teenagers. Only 15% of African American respondents support the current opt out system.

Additionally, support for comprehensive Abstinence Education is high, especially among African Americans and Hispanics.

  • Nearly 77% of Hispanic respondents would support abstinence education that teaches the facts about contraception while promoting delaying sex as the best choice for teenagers.
  • Additionally, over 80% of Hispanic respondents would be supportive of an abstinence education program that taught healthy relationship skills.
  • Nearly 83% of African American respondents would support abstinence education that teaches healthy relationship skills.
  • And close to 73% of African American respondents would support abstinence education that teaches the facts about contraception while promoting delaying sex as the best choice for teenagers.

Among all parents, more than 75% of respondents would support abstinence education that teaches healthy relationship skills. Close to 71% of respondents would support abstinence education that teaches the facts about contraception while promoting delaying sex as the best choice for teenagers. 

“This kind of social experiment has no place in the education of our children,” said State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. “NYC parents agree that the DOE is out of bounds on this issue.” Noting that the poll found only 32% of New Yorkers who rated the performance of New York City public schools in academics excellent or good, Diaz said, “The schools should be focused on providing a quality education to our children, not on passing out pills.”

The Chiaroscuro Foundation is a member of the NYC Parents’ Choice Coalition, which opposes the CATCH program and advocates for optional abstinence education in NYC schools.

The questions on abstinence education were taken from a national survey conducted by the National Abstinence Education Foundation, the results of which can be found at http://whattheytoldus.org/. The results of the NYC survey are comparable to the national results.

 

Complete poll results are available at nycparentschoice.org.

Open Letter to Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott

Dear Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott,

As parents, we wish to express our strong opposition to the Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health (CATCH) pilot program. In fact, we would like it to be known that 55.8% of parents with children under the age of 18 oppose the CATCH program, according to a recent poll commissioned by the Chiaroscuro Foundation and conducted by Smith Johnson Research.

While we agree with the goal of reducing unwanted pregnancies, we object to the deceptive means employed by the Department of Education to disengage parents from important, potentially life-altering health care decisions involving their minor children. According to the same poll, only 30% of parents think the city’s current “opt-out” procedure is appropriate.

Furthermore, no one questions the idea that giving teens access to Plan B will work to decrease teenage pregnancies. But we should question it, because there is no evidence that it will, and in fact there is some evidence that the increased access will change teen behavior in a way that will result in an increase in sexually transmitted diseases. Several studies over the years have concluded that access to abortion and contraceptives alter sexual behavior in ways that lead to more unplanned pregnancies and STI’s.

In reality, CATCH should be replaced with proven risk avoidance programs that will encourage adolescents to wait at least until they are adults before becoming sexually active. Fully 76% of parents would support abstinence education if it taught the facts about contraception but promoted delaying sex as the best choice for teens. Additionally, 81% of parents would support abstinence education if it taught healthy relationship skills to teens.

 New York parents have strong opinions about their children’s sex education.  Parents, not the school system, should decide the health care options for their children. We strongly urge that you suspend the CATCH pilot program, respect the rights of parents to make affirmative health care decisions involving their children, and create a permanent parents advisory council to advise city agencies on how best to engage parents.

Sincerely,

 

Michael Benjamin, Former Assemblyman, NY
Ali Klo, MD, NY
John Margand, lawyer, NY
George H. Morrissey, Board Member, Program Reach, NY
State Senator Reverend Reuben Diaz (D-Bronx), NY
Greg Pfundstein, Chiaroscuro Foundation, NY
Meg McDonnell, Chiaroscuro Foundation, NY
Edward Mechmann, Archdiocese of New York
Bill Harder, The Cross Road Foundation, Executive Director
Pastor William Devlin RN BSN MA, Interim Pastor, Iglesia Biblica de Manhattan, Manhattan NYC
Chris Slattery, President, Expectant Mother Care
Miriam Grossman, M.D. Psychiatrist, NY
Chaplain Viviana V. Hernandez, United Chaplains State of NY
Nanci Coppola, MD, Executive Director of Program Reach

View All of the Signatures

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Press Coverage:

10-24-12 - Mona Davids, President of the NYC Parents Union - Voice of America 

10-21-12 - Greg Pfundstein, Executive Director, Chiaroscuro Foundation and NYC Parents' Choice Coalition member, is quoted in a NYPost column.

9-29-12 - Mona Davids, President of the NYC Parents Union and Michael Benjamin, former NY Assemblyman, are quoted in a Daily Beast article.

9-28-12 - Greg Pfundstein, Executive Director, Chiaroscuro Foundation and NYC Parents' Choice Coalition member, writes for The Public Discourse

9-28-12 - Valerie Huber, President of the National Abstinence Education Association is quoted at The New American

9-27-12 - NY Post - Bronx Assemblyman Marco Crespo is quoted by columnist Andre Peyser
Out of (Birth) Control

9-26-12 - Christian Broadcasting Network covers the NYC Parents' Choice Press CATCH press conference

9-26-12 - Valerie Huber, President of the National Abstinence Education Association is quoted in an AP article at CBS News.

9-25-12 - Michael Benjamin, former NY Assemblyman and Executive Director, NYC Parents' Choice Coalition, writes for the NYPost

9-24-12 - Mona Davids appearance on CNN:

Short Clip

Medium Clip

Full Debate about 10 minutes

9-24-12 - Greg Pfundstein, Executive Director, Chiaroscuro Foundation and Parents' Choice Coalition member, quoted by National Review Online

9-24-12 - Greg Pfundstein, Executive Director, Chiaroscuro Foundation and NYC Parents' Choice Coalition member, is quoted in a NYPost column.

9-23-12 - New York Times - Greg Pfundstein

9-23-12 - NY Post -- Sue Edelman's exclusive report: NYC schools give morning-after pills to students -- without telling parents