General Articles

Students Fight for Sex-Ed in the City

New York, NY

Schools in New York City are not required to offer any sexuality education to their students, even in high school.  While they are required to meet minimum requirements for teaching HIV/AIDS prevention, they do not have to teach about any other aspects of sexuality such as contraceptives, relationships, or general health and well being.1

Driven by this fact, as well the high numbers of sexually active students in city schools and a high pregnancy rate among women under the age of 20, a group of students started a petition to mandate that schools teach a more comprehensive version of sexuality education.2   The students are not out on a limb in demanding this change.  The Department of Education approved new standards for sex education in October, and simply failed to mandate that they be taught.3

”It’’s as important as our other classes,”said Jennifer Jones, 14, a ninth-grader at the Manhattan Center school in Harlem, and one of the students organizing the effort. ”Sex ed helps us to know about our bodies. Our bodies are us, and if we don’t know how to take care of them we could die.”4

The students were able to testify before the New York City Council in the week leading up to World AIDS Day, which fell on December 1st.  New York City has over 100,000 people living with AIDS, a stark reminder of why comprehensive sexuality education is so important for all students.5

The Department of Education is piloting a sex education curriculum for public schools, but has not made a decision regarding making sex education mandatory.6 SIECUS will continue to monitor this situation. 


  1. Justin Rocket Silverman, “Students Push to Mandate Sex-Ed,” AM New York, 27 November 2007, accessed 8 January 2008, <,0,5048309.story?coll=amny_home_rail_headlines>.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Editorial, “The Facts of Life in Schools,” El Diario, 1 December 2007, accessed 8 January 2008, <>.
  6. Editorial, “Resolutions for 2008,” El Diario, 31 December 2007, accessed 8 January 2008, <>