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Activists Demand 'Abstinence Only' Be Option In NYC Sex-Ed Curriculum

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There is a curriculum controversy over New York City's plan to teach sex education at all middle and high schools. Activists are demanding the Department of Education offer an "abstinence only" option.

"Just don't do it" -- that's the heart of the abstinence message and it's one some activists want city schools to send loud and clear, reports CBS 2's Tony Aiello.

"Abstinence is 100 percent. Abstinence works 100 percent of the time!" said Rev. Bill Faulkner of New Horizon Church.

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In fact, the Department of Education's sex curriculum features a unit on abstinence. Students learn abstinence benefits include "no worries about getting pregnant," "protecting your reputation" and "keeping to your religious beliefs."

But in addition to abstinence, the curriculum includes contraception, with a discussion of condoms  for students as early as sixth grade.

By high school the list of contraceptive methods becomes more explicit and expands to include the pill, IUDs and diaphragms.

Activists say a program that combines abstinence and contraception confuses young people.

"It's a mixed message. It's a red light, green light, and it helps you understand why over 40 percent of ninth graders in this city are sexually active," Dr. Miriam Grossman said.

They want the city of offer an "abstinence only" option in the sex-ed curriculum, but Planned Parenthood says the city's comprehensive approach is the correct one.

"Study after study shows that it's comprehensive, age appropriate and medically accurate sex education that not only helps delay first sexual contact among young people but helps them make healthier and safer decisions if and when they do decide to become sexually active," Planned Parenthood's Erica Sackin said.

The city says there will be no "abstinence only" option, but students do have the option of skipping lessons on birth control.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said it's important to teach abstinence, but ignoring contraception would be "sticking our heads in the sand."

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