November 7, 2011 Mayor Michael R.

Bloomberg City Hall New York, NY 10007 Chancellor Dennis Walcott NYC Department of Education Tweed Courthouse 52 Chambers Street New York, NY 10007

Dear Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott: Recently, the NYC Department of Education (DOE) announced a comprehensive health education program requiring that “students have a semester course of health education in middle and high school”, mandating “health education as a high school graduation requirement”, and allowing parents to “opt-out on prevention and birth control” lessons for their children. While the NYC DOE has not mandated a specific curriculum since 2007, it has long recommended “age-appropriate sexual health lessons”– which many NYC schools currently use. As members of the NY State Bi-Partisan Pro Choice Legislative Caucus we write to strongly support your expanded commitment to providing this critically important health education to every student in the NYC public school system. We are disturbed that some individuals, disregarding the scientific facts and the facts of the DOE’s plan, have been very vocal in their opposition. Some opponents argue against this mandate and for abstinence only health education. However, experience shows that doesn’t work! NARAL reports that in the U.S., the federal government has supported “abstinence-only-until-marriage” programs for 30 years. These programs have proven less than effective when we compare them against current health statistics. The NYC Department of Health reports that approximately “one in three youth in grades 9-12” are currently having sex, and “nearly one in five report having had four or more sex partners so far in their lifetime.” Further, “only two-thirds of New York City’s sexually active youth report using condoms at all and one in five girls did not use any birth control the last time they had sex.” According to research conducted by Planned Parenthood, abstinence only programs lead to making unhealthy and dangerous decisions for young people when they become sexually active. However, comprehensive age appropriate sex education, which includes discussions of
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abstinence as well as birth control protection during sexual activity, has proved to be more effective at protecting young people from unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Comprehensive sex education promotes healthier decisions if teenagers become sexually active because, according to Planned Parenthood, it minimizes “misinformation about sex and sexuality”, promotes safe, positive relationships, and encourages “open and healthy communication between teens and their parents”. In addition, according to a report published by NARAL Pro-Choice New York in 2010, they note that “over 20 years of surveys on the local, state, and national levels confirm that 80 to 85 percent of parents want their children to receive comprehensive, medically accurate, age appropriate sex education, and in 2009, they reported that “81 percent of New York City voters thought sex education should be taught in public schools." Comprehensive, scientifically accurate health education programs empower young people to make better decisions in their lives. We know that this education will help improve the quality of the public’s health in New York City and, ultimately, throughout New York State. Thank you for taking the lead in ensuring we are providing this important curriculum to our local schools and helping parents to give our young people the tools and skills they need to make smart and healthy life decisions.
Please feel free to follow up with the NYS Bipartisan Pro-Choice Caucus via the office of State Senator Liz Krueger at (212) 490-9535 or at the address listed below.

Sincerely,

Senator Tony Avella

Senator David Carlucci

Senator Thomas K. Duane

Assemblymember Richard Gottfried

Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh

Senator Liz Krueger

Assemblymember Rory Lancman

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Assemblymember Joel Miller

Assemblymember Joan L. Millman

Senator Velmanette Montgomery

Assemblymember Amy Paulin

Senator Gustavo Rivera

Assemblymember Teresa Sayward

Senator Daniel Squadron

Senator Toby Ann Stavisky

Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins

Assemblymember Fred W. Thiele, Jr.

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