NYC to Require Sex Ed in Public Schools

Cheetos bag

As the NY Times reports, starting in the upcoming school year, for the first time in nearly two decades, students in New York City’s public middle and high schools will be required to take sex education classes. Previously, NY had been one of 12 states that required H.I.V. education only.

I love that some of the momentum behind this decision was explicitly tied to Mayor Bloomberg’s recent announcement that he will put his own money towards programs and policies that address the needs of minority youth in NYC. Hell yeah, cause we matter and we are currently under-served!! (I’m still classified as a “youth” somewhere, right?)

A few months ago, I gave an interview to the “Where is Your Line” blog in which I described a negative experience I had with sex ed that actually made me question some of the values being touted by my teachers and helped nudge me further towards my feminist destiny:

I went to a big public school, where I was very alone in my feminist beliefs, save for a few close friends of mine. And I’ll never forget, in 9th grade, experiencing my high school’s version of “sex ed” which consisted of, among other things, being asked to consume a bag of Cheeto’s, then gulp up a glassful of water, swoosh it around in my mouth, and spit it back into the glass. As my classmates and I looked at the unappealing orange flecks that had been transferred to the water, we were matter-of-factly told that when you have sex, you are exchanging bodily fluids, and the more partners you have, the more flecks you pick up in your “glass of water”. Though I found myself reeling at the image along with my classmates, a part of me questioned the foundation of the exercise and wondered how such an abstract and shaming image could help give me the tools I needed to navigate my sex life safely and pleasurably.

I’m mostly happy about Mayor Bloomberg’s decision because it brings us one step closer to eradicating such a silly and dangerous experience for the adolescents of NYC.

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is a writer and advocate focusing on race, gender, and sexual and reproductive rights. In addition to her work at Feministing, Lori is an Associate Director at Planned Parenthood Global. Lori has previously worked at the United Nations Foundation, the International Women’s Health Coalition, and Human Rights Watch, and has written for a host of print and digital properties including Rookie Magazine, The Grio, and the New York Times Magazine. She regularly appears on radio and television, and has spoken at college campuses across the U.S. about topics like the politics of black hair, transnational movement building, and the undercover feminism of Nicki Minaj. In 2014, she was named to The Root 100 list of the nation's most influential African Americans, and to the Forbes Magazine list of the "30 Under 30" successful people in media.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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