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Students Dangerously Misled by Outdated Sex Ed Courses, Report Reveals

Sex, lies, & misinformation.

By Kristin Wong Sep 14, 2012 7:26PM

Some might argue that it's up to parents to teach their children about sex, but sex education is nothing new, and research shows that proper sex education actually delays teen sex. But according to a new report from the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), many schools are teaching sex education courses that are severely outdated.

The NYCLU's survey of 82 schools found that students are learning gender stereotypes, biases and in some cases, flat out inaccuracies.

In the NYCLU's "Birds, Bees and Bias: How Absent Sex Ed Standards Fail New York Students," they examined the textbooks, lesson plans and supplements teachers used to educate 540,000 New York students about sex. Executive director Donna Lieberman summed up the findings in a conference call on Wednesday:

"Too much is missing. Too much is inaccurate. There are far too many stereotypes and far too much bias."

When it comes to AIDS education, for example, 44 percent of schools teaching it are using scientifically inaccurate information. According to blog Albany Watch, one district even showed students a diagram that illustrated the timeline of HIV leading to a death sentence. It included an arrow pointing at a tombstone that read "RIP."

Students were also egregiously misinformed about safe sex. While 80 percent of districts taught some information about condoms, only one-third of them provided demonstrations, and some schools were teaching flat-out dangerous misinformation. They told students that condoms containing a certain type of spermicide could prevent the transmission of HIV. But, in actuality, the spermicide they cited (which is still on the market) makes it easier for the HIV virus to spread. According to the report:

"But for more than a decade, Nonoxynol-9 has been known not to prevent transmission, and to possibly increase HIV transmission in women. Misinformation of this nature is both medically inaccurate and potentially dangerous."

Furthermore, in one school, students were advised to use condoms only if they were having sex with multiple partners.

With blunders like this, why teach sex ed in the first place?

Less immediately dangerous but potentially harmful to social evolution and students' identity, the NYCLU also found that gender stereotypes were reinforced in much of the curricula. The materials included diagrams of male and female brains, illustrating that men almost exclusively think about sex while women are needy and jealous. While that may be a long-standing gender stereotype (and fodder for '90s standup material), it's generally untrue.

"Both the state guidance document and the national standards say high school student should learn about gender stereotypes and how stereotypes about gender roles can be limiting for men and women," the report reveals. Further, they add: "The national standards add that middle and high school students should learn about gender identity; gender expression; transgender people, sex stereotypes and gender non-conformity; and that biological sex, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation differ."

And that's another area where these schools have failed, and, I think it's safe to assume, schools across the nation are likely failing. There was relatively no information on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. For students questioning their sexuality or gender identity, sex ed could be a very informative source of guidance. Unfortunately, there's nothing offered.

The report also found that there were moral overtones to a lot of this information, and in some instances, shame-based messages. In some cases, schools taught that sex is only appropriate within the context of marriage. One textbook read:

"Waiting until marriage to have sex preserves traditional marriage … Actions that preserve traditional marriage preserve the family."

So, basically, the message is: Don't have sex before marriage or you're ruining your future family.

Related video: 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship

To be honest, there's very little I remember from my junior high sex education, other than the giggling that ensued every time our uptight science teacher said the word "penis." And he knew we were giggling, too.  He didn't want to teach it any more than we wanted to hear him talk about it; we all just wanted to get the awkwardness over with. But the point is, perhaps it's time to take sex education a bit more seriously.

The Heart Beat talked to one California teacher who says that the problem isn't limited to New York.

 "I teach sex education in California public schools, juvenile hall and parent groups.  I’m credentialed and certified.  I have found two glaring errors in the most used sex-ed curriculum in the state."

The teacher, who prefers to be left unnamed, says one of the errors has to do with condom use.

"The materials that the students view in the [sex-ed] curriculum do not mention one vital step in proper condom usage: putting it on before sexual contact."

It may seem obvious, but it's still important, and apparently, it needs to be reinforced:

"Studies confirmed by the CDC show that 'Incorrect use more commonly entails a failure to use condoms throughout the entire sex act, from start (of sexual contact) to finish (after ejaculation).'"

Further, the source tells us that other parts of the curriculum leave "students to believe that condoms could be 100 percent effective for all STDs, which is medically inaccurate."

She adds that she's brought the errors to the attention of the Department of Education and Red Cross Positive Prevention, as well as the original author of the specific curriculum.

"Millions of students have been given biased inaccuracies--errors that led them in the direction of making unhealthy choices. Currently, one in four US teens have an STI (sexually transmitted infection). At a minimum, what they are taught in school should attempt to improve that figure, not make it worse."

The NYCLU is recommending that the state Education Department update its sex education regulations. They want to make sex ed more comprehensive.

"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, added that the organization is reviewing the report.

 "Our goal is to make sure students get accurate, sound health information."

More love and sex on MSN Living:

Crazy Marriage Proposals
Weird Wild World of Modern Love
Most Romantic Date Destinations in America
25 Reasons Why Married Sex Is Better


Photo:  Paul Simcock/Getty Images


Sep 15, 2012 5:39PM

The best education with regard to sex is spending time on a farm.


As our society loses more and more people actually engaged in agricultural activities and "factory farms" take the place of family farms we are losing a LOT of the human knowledge that enabled us to "progress" to an urban society in the first place.


At the same time we seem to be struggling to provide our children with an, "education," and just can't seem to figure out what that's all about. (It's the teachers, it's the curriculum, it's lazy kids, it's univolved/disitnerested parents, it's lack of community support, it's lack of funding, yeah like just throwing money at something fixes it... wow... the list goes on!)


We need to have every child in America spend a year (or more) on a working farm. Perhaps that can be done with small working facilities with dorms, or some other means... but I'm telling you, if a kid sees where piglets, chicks and calves come from... sex education (and a whole lot of other subjects) won't be as necessary to try to, "teach!" They'll get the message!

Sep 15, 2012 5:38PM
Now do you think updated sex education courses actually do delay teen sex or does it just teach them how to hide it better?
Sep 15, 2012 5:34PM

If left up to parents alone:

1. Kids don't think she will get pregnant the first time out.

2. Boys are told withdrawing will prevent pregnancy.

3. Kids don't know you can catch everything from oral sex too.

4. Girls think the boys are actually emotionally ready for a 'relationship' which in fact is 2-3 months max to get a girl to put out then onto the next one. Long-term relationships are no longer the norm for teens.

5. Kids are misusing birth control resulting in decreased effectiveness such as opening condoms with teeth.


As our local high schools all have had daycare centers at maximum capacity for over 2 decades, I think spending some time revising the sex ed curriculum would make sense as well as presenting the Christian values lecture and sources for birth control just for objectivity. Parents can be told to reenforce their own values at the same time the kids are in this class at school.

Sep 15, 2012 5:23PM
Really? So, what is it MSNBC? A couple months ago a national report on teen pregnancy stated that the US had 2 awards for the #1 spot for the greatest teen pregnancy epidemic in the world as well as having the youngest rate of pregnancy anywhere and does MSNBC recall why this was? Let me fill you in incase you forgot your own liberal gibberish, it was because of the fact that we were following the example of the liberal ideology of teaching the kids at an even younger age. Instead of what the liberal "experts" told us would happen if we taught the children at a younger age "supposidly a massive decrease in teen pregnancy and sexual experimentation" the exact opposite happend exactly like what those evil neoconic hate filled homophobes said it would..............Imagine that, a group of people who respect and teach to follow family values , being role model parents, teaching unity and love is made out to look like fools and people behind the times in the stone ages yet on every subject they are mocked about from the liberal experts, it alawsy comes back to nip the liberals in the rear. Sexual education should be the duty and job of the parents period. i don't care what liberal fabricated lie is being spread such as "well, the majority of parents don't even teach their children about sex" BS! consider all the immorality on TV these days and what is talked about and sold to the American people, heck, MTV alone is the underage childs guide to sexual immorality. Now we are reading that NY of all places claims that sex eduction is outdated with it's teachings? Really? You mean it's outdated by teaching 4th graders about homosexuality? Outdated? You mean 5th graders being handed out condoms? Outdated? In California the sexual education being taught in some schools to children as young as in the 6th grade are encouraging  teaching that "oral sex" it not really sex at all and is more acceptable that sexual intercoarse and also it will not lead to pregnancy? Yeah, OK, sure.......... and these liberals claim they know best...............
Sep 15, 2012 5:18PM
But women ARE needy and jealous! At least the dozen or so that I've been with have been.
Sep 15, 2012 5:17PM
"they drag the decent down to their level.

they target YOUR children. once they raise YOUR children to believe in their degenerate indecent values, they believe they are no longer responsible for their own values"


You show your ignorance... and lack of knowledge of reality.  The left as your refer it is trying to give kids the education they need to make informed decisions about their bodies.

The right...would prefer the kids get no information at all in the fantasy hope that the parent will provide the education at the needed time.


Do I even need to show you the stats on teen pregnancy rates in Texas? It's all the information you need to make a decision on which is the correct way.  Texas abstinence education doesn't work... its plain and simple.

Sep 15, 2012 5:07PM

the Left does indeed worship, not at any spiritual altar, but at the altar of big Leftist controlling government, and even more at the altar of sexual self-gratification.


what does the indecent lowest of the low do?  they drag the decent down to their level.

 they target YOUR children.  once they raise YOUR children to believe in their degenerate indecent values, they believe they are no longer responsible for their own values.


degenerate will always be degerate.  by definition.  the Left will be held to account for what they have done to our children.  while they claim to care about children, that is a lie, as they care far more about their own self-gratification priorities.  just look at the sewage they produce coming out of hollwood, the same garbage they lap up.  the lowest will always corrupt the young.  this topic is absolute proof.

'"Waiting until marriage to have sex preserves traditional marriage…Actions that preserve traditional marriage preserve the family." 

and this would be misinformation how?  If you are a teen interested in having a traditional family is this not the way to achieve that? Is there something wrong with wanting that? I'm freakin confused. Homosexual teens should have their  sexuality pandered to but teen who want a traditional marriage , traditional family, well lets just not talk about that? I think maybe the pendulum has swung tooooo far.
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