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Mandatory Sex-Ed Classes Returning To New York City Public Schools

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- After 20 years, mandatory sex education is back in New York City public schools.

Starting in the spring, kids as young as 11 will be learning about the birds and bees, even how to use condoms.

As CBS 2's Dave Carlin reports, some parents are worried about the sex-ed mandate, saying the Department of Education is rushing into it.

"I had a health class but sex was not one of the topics in my health class," 17-year-old high school senior Kaya Simmons told Carlin on Wednesday.

WCBS 880's Paul Murnane reports:Learning About The Birds And The Bees


Simmons said he had zero sex education in his city public schools, but it will soon be mandatory for all students in sixth or seventh grades, with another round of it in ninth or 10th grades.

"The goal is we want to help young people make better decisions about sex," Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs.

The topics abstinence, using condoms, unplanned pregnancies and STDs, are currently taught in some city schools, but not all.

1010 WINS' Stan Brooks reports: Sex-Ed Is Back


Bill Donahue of the Catholic League said mandatory sex-ed is wrong and should not be rushed into the schools without public hearings.

"The entire idea is culturally irresponsible and morally insane," Donahue said. "Our kids cannot even read and write according to standard and now you are going to take more time out of the classroom to talk about this?"

Some angry parents said they want to see all the lesson plans ahead of time. They are worried what will be taught to sixth graders could be too adult.

"If they don't have the curriculum all mapped out so they can tell me as a parent first what they are going to tell my child, yes, I have a problem with that," said Wendy Barnolyons of the Bronx.

The instruction is based on recommended curriculums. Principals may consider those lesson plans, and also alter them.

"Parents who choose either for religious reasons or because they want it to be a conversation between themselves and the child … they can opt out," Gibbs said.

But that still didn't sit well with everyone.

"I think you're taking away the innocence from the child," one Washington Heights man told WCBS 880's Paul Murnane.

However, others were on board with the decision. Corinne Apton of Brooklyn said she's happy for the extra help keeping her son, Max, in the know about sex, responsibility and staying safe.

"He is going into fifth grade so I have another year before middle school," said Apton, adding when asked if starting in sixth grade is a better idea, "That's fine by me. I have no problem with it."

"They are going to learn it someday so it might as well be at school," another man said.

"Kids need to be educated, whether they're having sex or not," one mother said.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said sex ed is an important part of a good education. Planned Parenthood of New York City also applauded the move.

"We are pleased to see the city finally taking action on this important issue," said Joan Malin, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood. "For far too long, too many of New York's young  people have been missing out on this vital information."

Malin said she believes the mandate doesn't go far enough and thinks sex education should be taught every year in every grade.

"Data show that when young people do have access to age-appropriate, comprehensive education -- which can include abstinence, they tend to use protection and make better decisions about their health," Malin told 1010 WINS.

The parental opt-out forms will be sent home with all students before the start of the spring semester. Teachers and principals are being brought up to speed on the new requirement and training classes for staff will be offered ahead of the first day of school.

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