Mayor Bloomberg Considers Teens Of Color When Mandating Sex Education

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Beginning this fall in New York City, students in public middle schools and high schools will be required to take a semester of sex ed both in 6th or 7th grade and then again in 9th or 10th grade. This new mandate goes above and beyond New York state’s requirement that kids take a semester of sex ed either in middle school or high school. This effort, according to The New York Times, is part of larger initiative by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to decrease unintended pregnancy and STDs in Black and Latino teenagers.

The New York Times reports that sex education is important to all children, but especially teens of color:

“It’s obviously something that applies to all boys and all girls,” said Linda I. Gibbs, the deputy mayor for health and human services. “But when we look at the biggest disadvantages that kids in our city face, it is blacks and Latinos that are most affected by the consequences of early sexual behavior and unprotected sex.”

The new program will include demonstrations on how to put on a condom and other birth control methods, but parents do have the option to decline that segment should they wish. Another important component of this program is that it teaches children how to negotiate sex with a partner and how to go about declining. Much of what gets lost in debates about schools mandating sex education is addressing how kids can effectively say “no” and mean it, resisting pressures from other kids or even adults. At the same time, alerting children to what constitutes rape, molestation, and harassment can make them more aware of dangerous situations in which they are being taken advantage of. Teaching kids about the parameters surrounding consensual sex gives them the autonomy and wherewithal to decline to participate.