The NYCLU’s report, entitled Birds, Bees, and Bias: How Absent Sex Ed Standards Fail New York Students, surveyed New York state schools’ sex ed teaching materials, and found some frightening stuff:
*Lessons on reproductive anatomy and basic functions were often inaccurate
and incomplete; pervasive factual limitations reflected gender stereotypes and
*HIV instruction, required by state law since 1987, is the most consistently robust element of sex education in New York State; 93 percent of districts we studied provided instruction about HIV and how it is transmitted, although only 56 percent offered complete and scientifically accurate information. Outdated information—on prognosis, drug therapies, prevention and transmission—undermined instruction in
* Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) students are
largely stigmatized or ignored entirely in health education classrooms. Few districts
discussed sexual orientation and gender identity. Fewer still discussed sexuality that
ventured beyond heteronormative, penis-in-vagina sex, effectively excluding LGBTQ
students and same-sex parented households. Some districts refer to gay men only in
the context of lessons on HIV. Persistent heterocentric bias dominates instruction about dating, relationships, marriage, sexuality, sexual assault and dating violence.
* Moral overtones and shame-based messages regarding sexuality, abstinence,
pregnancy and teen parenting strongly pervade instructional materials in all
districts—and textbooks in wide use across New York State.
*Many students do not learn the full range of methods for preventing pregnancy
or sexually transmitted infections. Too few school districts provide students with
information about how to access local health resources or their right to confidential
reproductive and sexual health care. [NYCLU
Well yikes, that’s pretty much all of what you should be learning in sex ed! Bad New York school districts, bad. They are recommending New York adopt enforceable standards for sex ed in schools, which sounds like an extremely good idea. New York City, as you recall, has already done so, so we weren’t included in the study. More to feel smug about, I suppose.