Updated 09/12/2012 07:56 PM
NYCLU criticizes sex-ed programs across the state
The New York Civil Liberties Union has come out with an in depth report that's critical of the way many of the state's school districts approach sexual education. YNN's Matt Hunter has more on the changes the organization would like to see enacted.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. – "I am very confident in what our teachers are teaching and the content they're teaching,” said Rebecca Carman, director of policy and community development for the Shenendehowa Central School District. “They're updated on a regular basis."
In late August, after a month’s long review of the district's sexual education curriculum, the Shenendehowa Central School District adopted a new comprehensive sexual education policy, designed to teach students about both abstinence and contraception, hoping the information will help them make the right choices.
"Obviously, parents have an obligation at home and we want to work together to reinforce that either here or school or at home," said Carman, whose role at the district includes overseeing health education.
While Shenendehowa's changes were initially motivated by a group of parents' complaints, other districts across the state may have to adopt a similar approach if the New York Civil Liberties Union gets its way.
In a 70 page report entitled "Birds, Bees and Bias: How Absent Sex-Ed Standards Fail New York’s Students," the organization criticized sex-ed programs across the state.
"Our study shows that the lack of binding statewide sex-ed standards is compromising the health and well-being of our young people," NYCLU’s executive director, Donna Lieberman, said in the report released Wednesday.
"We want the state to enact binding standards but those standards have to be comprehensive sex-ed,” NYCLU assistant advocacy director Johanna Miller said. “Comprehensive sex-ed works, we know this."
The study, which analyzed 82 public school districts across the state, including 18 in the Capital Region, found that most of the materials used in sex-ed classes are out of date, often biased and many times scientifically incorrect, especially when it comes to topics like sexual orientation, contraception, risk for pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
Enacted in 2005, New York State does have a series of official sex-ed guidelines, however, they are not binding.
While the NYCLU would certainly like to see that changed, some believe those decisions should be kept at the local level.
"I think each school district, each community has to decide what works for them,” Carman said. “Each district, you know, is made up of a different population of students, of parents and of community members and I really think it's a decision that has to be made at a district level."
Meanwhile, in a statement released Thursday, New York State Department of Education Chief of External Affairs Dennis Tompkins said: "We'll carefully review the report and its recommendations. Our goal is to make sure students get accurate, sound health information."