Graphic Sex Ed in New York Upsets Parent Groups

Sex ed, which becomes mandatory in city middle and high schools next year in New York, is meant to provide enlightenment that should stem unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases among teens. But parents may be shocked by parts of the Department of Education's "recommended" curriculum, writes Susan Edelman at the New York Post.

Workbooks reviewed by The Post include the following assignments:

High-school students go to stores and jot down condom brands, prices and features such as lubrication.

Kids ages 11 and 12 sort "risk cards" to rate the safety of various activities, including "intercourse using a condom and an oil-based lubricant,'' mutual masturbation, French kissing, oral sex and anal sex.

Teens are referred to resources such as Columbia University's Web site Go Ask Alice, which explores topics like "doggie-style" and other positions, "sadomasochistic sex play," phone sex, oral sex with braces, fetishes, porn stars, vibrators and bestiality.

One Manhattan middle-school mother, when hearing what these lessons entailed said: "They seem pretty outrageous."

Shino Tanikawa, a SoHo mother of two daughters, including a high-school junior, also was taken aback.

"I didn't know how much detail they would get," she said.

One group, The NYC Parents' Choice Coalition, has been particularly outspoken against the new curriculum and held a press conference to voice their concerns, writes Logan Burruss at CNN.

"I know that as my grandchildren, I want them to be able to know that abstinence is an option," Sylvia Laughlin, a group member, said at the press conference. "It's something they have a right to choose."

The Department of Education insists that while the program would begin sexual education classes in middle school and provide far more in-depth instruction regarding safe-sex practices, abstinence would continue to be taught. Starting in the spring, the DOE will require one semester of sex ed in sixth or seventh grades and one in ninth or 10th.

The DOE says schools can pick any curriculum but recommends the widely used HealthSmart and Reducing the Risk programs and trains teachers to use them.

"Abstinence is a very important part of the curriculum," Department of Education Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said in a statement Monday.

"But we also have a responsibility to ensure that teenagers who are choosing to have sex understand the potential consequences of their actions."

The DOE says parents have the right to exclude their kids from lessons on "methods of prevention."

"Kids are being told to either abstain or use condoms — that both are responsible, healthy choices," said child and adolescent psychiatrist Miriam Grossman, author of "You're Teaching My Child What?"

The DOE "relies on latex," she said.

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