Reasonable people agree that schools should play a role in educating children about their bodies and about the consequences of sex. But are New Yorkers — be they liberal or conservative, religious or non-religious — really comfortable with adopting a K-12 sex-ed plan that isn’t so much about biology as it is about assailing traditional values and encouraging behavior that responsible adults know is terrible for kids?
That’s what will happen if lawmakers in Albany enact a proposed law that promotes a full-spectrum progressive agenda, offering not legitimate information and sound advice but pure ideology. They call it “sex education for change.”
New York is one of 22 states without a statewide sex-ed mandate. That permits local districts to decide how best to handle this subject, based on community values and characteristics. But the bill proposed by state Sen. Samra Brouk of Rochester would trash local control of sex ed and put in place a state-imposed curriculum.
That would be reason enough to oppose it. But the content Brouk seeks to impose on all districts should give even the Empire State’s most liberal parents second thoughts.
As things stand, New York City public schools give lower-grade classes instruction about viruses and the immune system, with no mention of sexual contact until the fourth grade. Older kids get sexual-health education starting in the sixth grade. But that already highly progressive standard pales before the program laid out in the National Sex Education Standards, or NSES, curriculum that Brouk’s bill would make mandatory.
These standards don’t just teach kindergarten kids the accurate names for their body parts. They inculcate them in the latest progressive ideas about fluid gender identity. The benefits to sex and gender ideologues are obvious: What better way to undermine traditional norms than to brainwash the next generation? The benefit to kids in the Empire State, however, are less clear.
Eight-year-olds would be taught about puberty, masturbation and the idea that there are multiple, fluid gender choices. They would also be instructed about the opportunity to receive hormone blockers that would allow little children to avoid having the “wrong puberty.”
Children as young as 11 would learn about different kinds of sex, including oral, vaginal and anal penetration. They’d ponder “whether or when to engage in sex.” Also on the menu: ideas about “queer, two-spirit, asexual, pansexual” identities; lessons on how to use contraception, including internal devices and condoms; and advice on “sexual health care,” including abortion.
That wouldn’t appear to leave much for older kids to learn, but the curriculum’s agenda for 14-year-olds includes sections on racism and sex, the importance of “reproductive justice” — that is, abortion — and strategies for conveying to partners ideas about personal space, consent and sexual pleasure.
Higher grades would engage in more overtly political lessons, though “engage” isn’t quite the right word: The upshot is that kids must lend support to every possible “family configuration.”
A few elements of this curriculum are useful, including the parts about the danger of abuse and how to identify and deal with pedophilia and unhealthy relationships. Nor is there anything wrong with teaching kids to respect all people.
But these marginal upsides don’t outweigh the perversity of the whole exercise. The point is to indoctrinate children into accepting the idea that having sex at a young age is a valid choice. Much of the rest seeks to short-circuit debates over highly contested issues — to produce citizens with preprogrammed ideas. The curriculum also clearly condemns religious believers and others who hold fast to traditional morality, including sexual abstinence before marriage.
Is it really possible that the Legislature would adopt such a radical proposal? Given the veto-proof majority Democrats have in Albany, with their caucuses dominated by the most extreme left-wingers, the grim answer is: yes.
Unless a groundswell of ordinary citizens from all faiths and partisan affiliations pushes back against this radical plan, it will be coming soon to a public kindergarten near you.
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS.org.