Groups Seek Alternative to City's Mandatory Sex Ed Program

Some religious and other groups called on the city Wednesday to offer an alternative to its newly mandated sex ed program.

The city allows parents to keep kids out of certain sessions, but the Parents Choice Coalition said they want the city to offer students a program that focuses exclusively on abstinence — even though it's part of the city program.

"When you tell kids, 'You should be abstinent, but if you're not going to be abstinent, here's how you get condoms and contraceptives,' it gives something of a wink and a nod to sexual activity," said Greg Pfundstein, executive director of the Catholic group, Chiaroscuro Foundation.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, in a prepared statement, said there needs to be a consistent curriculum across the city that teaches about the merits of abstinence and also instructs students "how to keep themselves safe."

"The city has been using its current program, called 'Health Smart' and 'Reducing the Risk,' for several years at some schools, but it only became mandatory district-wide in August," Walcott said. "It’s produced by a California-based company that gets funding from the National Institutes of Health, among others."