According to a recent report by the New York Civil Liberties Union, numerous public school districts across New York State are providing their students with sex-ed instruction that is outdated, inaccurate and biased.
The NYCLU analyzed sex education textbooks and materials used in 82 public school districts during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years. New York City was excluded from the study due to a citywide sex-education mandate adopted in January 2012; however, according to Metro-New York the NYCLU wants to review the city’s sex-ed materials in the future.
In an op-ed for the Buffalo News, the report’s author, Johanna Miller, points out that the Buffalo School District — one of the largest in New York — uses a textbook that preaches abstinence-only methods for preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, with no mention of condoms or contraception.
This lack of a comprehensive sex-ed curriculum could very well contribute to the statistics she goes on to cite: 1-in-3 boys report not using condoms, and 4-in-5 girls say they don’t take birth control pills, despite nearly 45 percent of New York’s male high school students and 40 percent of female students identifying as sexually active. Additionally, New York’s teen pregnancy rate is the 11th highest among the 50 states.
Metro-New York reports that some of the material was also nearly 20 years out of date; for example, most of the education materials used in the Yorkshire-Pioneer District, just south of Buffalo, referenced studies conducted in 1994.
In addition to much of the teaching across the board being centered around boys' bodies versus girls', the report also found that LGBTQ students are largely ignored or stigmatized in New York sex-ed instruction. As Miller references in her op-ed, school districts provide little instruction when it comes to sexual orientation, same-sex couples or gender identify.
Check out the slideshow below to see more of the report’s findings: