Believe it or not, sex education in the public school system is still a fairly controversial topic. Though it’s nothing new, and some studies have shown that proper sex education actually causes teens to delay intimacy, a new report shows that the outdated curriculum of many sex-ed courses is actually harmful and misleading to students.
The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) surveyed 82 schools, examined textbooks, lesson plans, and supplemental educational materials to get an idea of how effective their sex education courses are. They published their findings in a report titled Birds, Bees and Bias: How Absent Sex Ed Standards Fail New York Students. As the title suggests, “Too much is missing. Too much is inaccurate. There are far too many stereotypes and far too much bias,” in sex education, according to executive director Donna Lieberman.
So what exactly to sex education programs get wrong?
The report highlighted several disturbing inaccuracies regularly taught in some sex-ed programs, some of which are “potentially dangerous.” Roughly half of all schools are teaching medically inaccurate information about AIDS. While about 80% of schools teach some information about safe sex, only a third provided demonstrations, and some schools taught that a specific spermicide would prevent the transmission of HIV (when, in fact, there is more risk of transmission, especially for women).
Gender stereotypes are also reinforced in the curriculum.
In many programs, diagrams show that a man’s brain is almost exclusively dedicated to sex and that a woman’s brain is primarily motivated by need and jealousy. It’s a common stereotype, but one that has proven untrue, reports to MSN. There was also little-to-no information for gay, lesbian, or transgender students.
In light of these glaring problems, the NYCLU is recommending that the Education Department update its sex education programs.
“It’s shocking what passes for sex ed in some New York classrooms,” Assistant Advocacy Director Johanna Miller, a co-author of the report, said in a statement. “Rigorous, binding statewide standards are essential to fix these rampant failures.”
Dennis Tompkins, a spokesman for the Department of Education, said that they are reviewing the report.
“Our goal is to make sure students get accurate, sound health information.”