Bill S.2584-A-Brouk/A.6616-Nolan would require public schools, including charter schools, to offer comprehensive sex education to all students in grades K-12 in accordance with state-created criteria. This bill is unacceptable, and parents with children in New York’s public schools should unite in opposition to it.
This legislation would require the commissioner of the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to create a comprehensive sexuality education program in accordance with “national sexuality education standards.” The program would receive input from experts, including experts in “reproductive and sexual health care” and experts in “serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender and questioning youth.” School districts would be required to provide comprehensive sex education in the academic year following the effective date of the program; thereafter, NYSED would “conduct a review of district implementation to monitor compliance.” The bill provides for a parental opt-out for HIV/AIDS instruction.
The bill’s definition of “comprehensive sexuality education” reads as follows:
As used in this article, “comprehensive sexuality education” means a medically accurate, age-appropriate sequential learning program which addresses physical, mental, emotional and social dimensions of human sexuality, is trauma-responsive and culturally appropriate, incorporates skills-based instruction; provides students with knowledge and skills they need to form relationships that are based on mutual respect and affection and that are free from violence, coercion, and intimidation; and are respectful and inclusive of all students regardless of actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, or gender as defined in section eleven of this chapter. Comprehensive sexuality education shall include, but is not limited to, age-appropriate instruction on: (i) human anatomy, reproduction, and sexual development; (ii) consent, bodily autonomy, boundary-setting, bullying, and peer pressure; (iii) healthy relationships, including relationships involving diverse sexual orientations and gender identities and prevention of intimate partner violence, sexual violence and sexual harassment; (iv) methods for preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections; (v) gender, gender expression, gender identity, diversity of sex characteristics, and the harms of gender stereotypes; (vi) the relationship between substance use and sexual behavior and health; and (vii) the use of technology and social media in interpersonal relationships.
Bill S.2584-A-Brouk/A.6616-Nolan is a massive government overreach. Parents—not public schools—are primarily responsible for instructing their children on topics like gender, sexuality, and relationships. Also, parents—not public schools—are primarily responsible for their children’s emotional development. Parents do not send their children to school to receive “trauma-responsive” and “skills-based” instruction on sexuality. The Legislature should recognize the limited role of public schools and should refrain from directing schools to overstep their bounds.
This legislation also substitutes the state’s judgment for the judgment of local school districts on how to handle sex education. Rather than implementing a top-down approach, the state should continue to leave school districts free to make their own decisions about sex education.
Furthermore, the instructional content to be covered under the proposed bill is problematic in the following respects:
- There is no such thing as “age-appropriate” sex education for children in kindergarten and in the primary grades;
- Instruction on “boundary-setting” and on the “mental, emotional and social dimensions of human sexuality” falls outside the scope of academic instruction. School is not therapy;
- The inclusion of material that affirms homosexual behavior and transgenderism is unnecessary, divisive, and disrespectful of families whose faith traditions discourage such behaviors;
- The inclusion of input from experts on “reproductive and sexual health care” raises concerns about the potential for inclusion of favorable instruction regarding abortion; and
- The bill does not require the use of a risk avoidance/abstinence-based approach to sex education. In fact, such an approach is not even mentioned.
Finally, the opt-out provision contained in the bill is woefully inadequate. It would allow parents to opt their children out of instruction pertaining to HIV and AIDS, but would not allow them to opt out of instruction on the many other controversial and objectionable topics to be included in the proposed curriculum.
Bill S.2584-A-Brouk/A.6616-Nolan is a measure that must not become law.