When I attended school in Manhattan, I received what I considered good, comprehensive sex education. Sex ed started in 5th grade: the boys went to one room, the girls to another, and we learned how bodies worked. (Okay, by that point we’d picked up enough through the playground, parents, or TV programs that we had the basics down already.) I don’t remember what precisely was covered, or how useful it was, but I have a clearer memory of 7th and 8th grade. I’ve mentioned the assembly on flavored condoms before; condoms could be procured for free in the bathroom at the nurse’s office.
I moved to New Jersey for high school, so I missed out on a continuing New York City sex education. But I always assumed–well, it’s New York City! Where would you expect to find better sex education?
So imagine my surprise when I read a letter, “Sex Ed in the City,” to the New York Times a few days ago from the president of Planned Parenthood of New York City. Joan Malin points out in that the city actually does not require sex education, a fact I find shocking. With the current budget cuts being made in New York schools, as a program legally considered non-essential, sex education is often a target. This puts youth at danger by not educating them on making healthy sexual decisions–and those young people grow up to adults who still don’t know how to make the best decisions.
I’ve realized, considering my own New York education, that the best sex ed I received was in 7th and 8th grade, when I attend a school that, though not private, was affiliated with Hunter College, not the Board of Education, and it had chosen to prioritize the subject where the city administration had not. While some public schools now also do an admirable job of providing comprehensive sex ed, it shouldn’t be left up to the discretion of individual school administrators.
If you’re a New Yorker and want to see sex ed secure, sign up with the Planned Parenthood “We’re Going to the Principal’s Office” campaign.