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NYCLU study raps sex ed in schools

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— Most school districts in the state have “disappointing” sexual education curricula that contain outdated information, promote gender stereotypes and often don’t address same-sex relationships, the New York Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday.

The NYCLU unveiled an analysis of the sex education programs of 108 school districts outside New York City.

The organization requested the 2009-10 and 2010-11 curricula of school districts through the Freedom of Information Act. Local school districts that responded include Schenectady, Shenendehowa, Gloversville, Amsterdam, Albany, Coblesville-Richmondville and South Glens Falls.

NYCLU recommends that comprehensive sex education be required in all the state’s public schools. Comprehensive sex education covers many topics, including abstinence, condom use, birth control, relationships and the reproductive anatomy.

But Maureen Silfer of Shenendehowa Parents Choice Coalition, a group of parents and Clifton Park and Halfmoon community members who advocate for abstinence education, contends the NYCLU’s analysis ignores a July Congressional report that said abstinence education is superior to comprehensive sex education.

“Their purpose is to set health policy and educational policy,” Silfer said of the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s health subcommittee. “The report states that [sexual risk avoidance] education is superior to comprehensive sex education based on empirical evidence and sound theory.”

Sex education has been a controversial topic in the past year in the Shenendehowa Central School District, after a group of parents who favor abstinence education asked the district to stop inviting Planned Parenthood to teach a seminar in health classes and asked the district to change its sex education curriculum to an abstinence model.

District officials spent months analyzing the issue and last month the Board of Education approved new guidelines that leave the door open for teachers to invite outside speakers but also emphasize the importance of abstinence.

The Congressional report said that abstinence education results in lower rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. The NYCLU report says the opposite, that getting comprehensive sex education lowers the rates of teen pregnancy and infection.

The abstinence-based curriculum focuses on relationships and decision-making skills. People who favor this approach argue that emotionally supported children who are given more facts and knowledge won't have sex.

Those who favor comprehensive sex education often argue that many teenagers are having sex and are going to continue to do so even if adults tell them not to, so they need information to prevent the unwanted consequences of sex.

“Whatever we may think of teen sexual activities, teenagers are having sex, lots of it,” Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU, said during a telephone conference Wednesday announcing their report.

A majority of parents want comprehensive sex education taught in schools, Lieberman said.

The report, which analyzes thousands of pages of school curricula, highlights statements and handouts that the organization said give incorrect information, promote gender stereotypes and marginalize gay, lesbian and transgender people.

For example, while most schools used diagrams that showed external male genitalia, most worksheets for females showed only the internal reproductive system.

“One district defined the penis as a ‘sperm gun’ and described the vagina as ‘penis fits in here,’ ” the report stated.

Diagrams of the brain that appear to make an attempt at humor portray girls as focused on shopping, “listening,” and commitment while boys think only about sex. A mock hazardous materials data sheet describes women as “the most powerful money reducing agent known to man” and “highly ornamental, especially in sports cars.”

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are marginalized or ignored in sex education textbooks and most classroom materials, Lieberman said.

“This isn’t fair to our kids or their families, and it’s not responsible education,” she said.

Currently, sex education is voluntary in the state’s school districts. Certain information about HIV and AIDS is required to be taught, but whether districts teach anything else is up to them.

The state Education Department does have voluntary curriculum guidelines for school districts to follow if they want to teach sex education.

The NYCLU wants comprehensive sex education to be required or to change the voluntary guidelines to bring them in line with up-to-date comprehensive sex education. The organization plans to lobby for changes at the state level, and officials hope that parents and teachers lobby their schools also.

“There’s a lot that people outside the halls of government can and must do,” said Melissa Goodman, NYCLU senior litigation and policy counsel.

The state Education Department plans to look at the report, said Dennis Tompkins, chief of external affairs.

“We’ll carefully review the report and its recommendations. Our goal is to make sure students get accurate, sound health information,” he said in a news release.



September 13, 2012
11:39 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Comprehensive sex ed advocates will tell you that CSE is more effective than abstinence (SRA) programs but won't tell you that in order to receive their federal funding, abstinence programs had to allot a significant portion of their funding for an independent evaluation proving their effectiveness. CSE programs, funded through Planned Parenthood, never had any such requirements and evaluated themselves.
Also, abstinence programs were evaluated in actual school programs. Many of these CSE programs that are touted as more effective actually occurred in after school programs, juvenile detention centers or family planning clinics.

CSE proponents will blame abstinence programs for our countries high teen pregnancy rate (the highest of every developed nation in the world) but won't tell you that at their highest funding level during the Bush years, abstinence programs only received 25% of the funding that CSE programs did.

When one actually delves into this controversy, the evidence is overwhelming that Planned Parenthood, SIECUS, Advocates for Youth, ACLU (all of which have pages on their websites giving advice on how to fight abstinence programs)have ulterior motives.

Sadly, the media protects them instead of investigating them.

September 13, 2012
11:44 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Why giving girls the Pill raises teen pregnancy

Read more:

Guest Blog: Following the Science? Not in Sex Ed

September 13, 2012
11:48 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Executive Summary
Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA), an abstinence-centered approach to sex education, is the
best public health strategy to prevent unintended teen pregnancies and sexually-transmitted
infections (STIs). Designed to emphasize risk avoidance, rather than risk reduction, SRA
programs are based on effective programs designed to encourage teens to avoid underage
drinking, illicit drug use, reckless driving, and other risky behaviors. It sends a clear message
that abstinence is the healthiest choice that teens can make for themselves and for society as a
whole, and it presents that message in a dignified, age-appropriate manner.
Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) is an alternative approach designed to teach all
options related to sexual behavior. The model is based on the presumption that sexual behavior
after puberty is inevitable. Preteens and teens learn a range of information related to anatomy,
human reproduction, the use of contraceptives, and the risks of pregnancy and STIs associated
with having sex. They also learn about relationships and the personal skills needed to reduce
By contrast, SRA is guided by the most current adolescent behavioral theory and optimal
health. It emphasizes risk avoidance as the best choice to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.
Although SRA provides information on contraception, the central message is that abstinence is
the best choice for teens. Lessons and activities are age-appropriate and designed to help teens
make and keep a commitment to being abstinent. The support of parents and other guardians is
important to these programs.2
CSE continues to be the most widely available sex education model in the United States
due in large part to Federal funding. Similar to the earlier medical model of sex education, CSE
takes a value-neutral approach to teenage sexual behavior. Although it provides information on
the benefits of abstinence, it also teaches ways to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. It is,
therefore, non-directive in helping teens to make the most age-appropriate and healthy choice.
The underlying message of CSE to both parents and teens is that abstinence may be an effective
choice, but that teens cannot or will not abstain from sex. As a result, the core message is risk

September 13, 2012
11:49 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

The prevalence of CSE has led many parents and taxpayers to perceive it as the best
approach. Decades of evaluation tell another story. CSE has done little in the last 20 years to
impact rates of teenage pregnancy.4 An updated approach, SRA, is demonstrating effectiveness
by emulating theory-based and successful public health campaigns helping teens set and keep
short-and long-term goals, and involving parents. Critically important to effectiveness, SRA is
also age appropriate.5
This report demonstrates that SRA is the better approach because it comports with the
latest research on teenage behavior and fosters healthy development. CSE has failed to lower
rates of teenage pregnancy because it assumes that preteens and teens are fully capable of
making decisions without adequate guidance. By contrast, a clear understanding of teenage
behavior is why public health campaigns against teenage drinking, smoking, and reckless driving
have been relatively successful. They are not value neutral when it comes to teenage choices,
especially those with public health ramifications. These programs set realistic and ageappropriate
expectations for the teens and then show them how to avoid the risky behaviors.
SRA is modeled on that successful reasoning. Research suggests that building the Federal effort
to prevent teenage pregnancy on the SRA model would lead to a greater success than the CSE
model has been able to achieve over the past two decades.
This report also clarifies the role of evaluation in prevention programs. Outcome
evaluation is an important tool. However, that stage of research is not enough to determine the
success of a program. Evaluation, simply put, is a comparison between a strategic plan and the
actual impacts of that plan. Programs must first be planned and designed around sound theory
and current findings that are explicitly stated. Without that guidance, it is difficult to design an
effective program or to effectively evaluate its results. Then programs must be implemented
consistent with the plan. Outcome evaluation then measures the program impact. Evaluation
conducted throughout the process of program development improves quality and effectiveness,
so that findings will be able to adequately inform policy making.

September 13, 2012
11:50 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

1National Guideline Task Force. Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education K-12- 3rd Edition. Sexuality
Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). 2004.
2 Ikramullah, E., Manlove, J., Cui, C. and Moore, K. Parents Matter: The role of Parents in Teens’ Decisions about
Sex. Washington, DC: Child Trends, Child Trends. 2009
4 Moore, K.A. and Sugland, B.W. (2001) Next Steps and Best Bets: Approaches to Preventing Adolescent
Childbearing. Washington, DC: Child Trends.(
1996_01_01_ES_NextSteps.pdf ).
5Jemmott, J. B., Jemmott L. S.,Fong G. T. (2010). Efficacy of a theory-based abstinence-only intervention over 24
months. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010;164(2):152-159.