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Today, young people in New York City are faced with a much more complex landscape.
Like teenagers everywhere, many New York City adolescents are sexually active, with 46 percent of high school students and 62 percent of high school seniors reporting that they have had intercourse.[viii] Students have questions about gender identity and sexual orientation, and many are seeking guidance on how best to navigate a healthy, intimate relationship and where to turn for sexual and reproductive health services.
The Department of Education should thoroughly assess certified health teaching positions across the district in order to comply with state law and develop strategies for improving professional development and certification opportunities.
Schools that do not have certified health instructors in grades 6-12 should provide a pathway for certification for at least one health instructor.
The DOE does provide a snapshot of compliance with New York State requirements for health education in reporting the number and percent of students who completed health instruction, and the number and percent of teachers licensed to teach health.
But this data would be more readily accessible to parents if it were included as part of every school’s quality review. School Wellness Councils are existing volunteer bodies that can provide oversight and emphasize the importance of sexual health education but they are not in place in every school.
The report then recommends a series of reforms based on best practices from other cities aimed at helping students develop healthy, informed outlooks on their own sexuality and that of others.
Specifically, the New York City Comptroller’s report finds that: This troubling landscape comes at a time when New York City students are themselves advocating for more and better guidance in navigating sexual health questions.
When basic information about contraception, sexuality, gender identity, or intimate partner violence are left in the shadows – or worse, left to “locker room talk” – we disadvantage our youth and deprive them of a core base of information that helps to prepare them for adulthood.Both offices offer a wealth of information and resources.For example, OCDV provides trainings on healthy intimate partner relationships for teens through the NYC Healthy Relationships Training Academy, but trainings must be requested.Unfortunately, New York City’s school-based instruction of sexual health education (or sex ed) is inconsistent and out of date compared to other major American cities.Worse, the New York City’s Department of Education’s (DOE) own data shows that for years the City has failed to comply with the State law requiring that students receive one semester of comprehensive health education by a certified health instructor at both the middle and high school levels.