The Catholic Church Has No Business Sending Public School Students Off Campus For Sex-Ed

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shutterstock_98796905__1365426082_70.118.110.28New York City began mandating sex education in public schools in the second semester of the 2011-2012 school year. Too bad some of these schools have to do a proverbial walk-of-shame to pass on the necessary information to their students. The Archdiocese of New York is a controlling landlord. The dozens of buildings it rents to the public school system are designated no sex education zones. How ridiculous.

The 2011 mandate required schools to include sexual health education as part of comprehensive health education. Sex education lessons for middle school students and high school students was included in the already mandated health education course. Fantastic. Public school students are getting important information about sexual health and education. But what kind of message are we sending to those students that have to travel off campus to absorb mandatory curriculum? The Daily News reports:

As a result of a longstanding but little-known agreement between church and city officials, dozens of city schools that lease church-owned buildings must take students off site for sex education.

The unusual arrangement rankles some parents and students who believe students should get sex ed and lessons about HIV/AIDS — which are mandated by law — in their home classrooms.

“It’s crazy,” said Tayshawn Edmonds, 15, of Brooklyn, a 10th-grader at El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice in Williamsburg. The school is housed in a church building on Hooper St. that it rents for $649,000 a year.

To receive annual sex ed lessons, Edmonds and his classmates must trek across the neighborhood to El Puente’s offices at 211 S. Fourth St. The trip takes about 15 minutes on foot.

Fifteen minutes on foot? So the students are taking a half hour out of their days to travel to a secondary location to be taught a mandated course? I guess it’s more important for the Catholic church to engage in the fantasy that sex education is the work of the devil than to give our students a full day’s curriculum. What a crock.

The city has rented space from the Archdiocese of New York since 2005. The no sex ed policy has always been in place. The Daily News reports that this year alone, the city Education Department “will pay more than $27 million in rent for 40 public schools housed in parochial school buildings.”

Parents are pissed and I don’t blame them. They don’t like the idea of their kids being forced off of school grounds for mandated lessons. I, for one, would be annoyed that a church had a say in what my public school student was learning on school grounds. Yet another example of why the Catholic church really needs to join us all in this century.

(photo: GOLFX/


  1. jef3r

    April 8, 2013 at 11:30 am

    “I, for one, would be annoyed that a church had a say in what my public school student was learning on school grounds. ”

    But it’s church property that they are renting out. If the school system doesn’t want the church to have a say in what your student is learning, then they need to find non-church owned buildings to use as schools.

    Whether or not anyone feels the church should change it’s beliefs is irrelevant. As part of the rental agreement, New York public schools agreed to the no sex ed clause. Period. End of story.

  2. Tea

    April 8, 2013 at 11:48 am

    I’m kind of with Jef3r, it sounds pretty water-tight in their agreement, and it’s not official school property they’re on.

    That, and my inner curmudgeon thinks that a brisk 15 minute walk is probably good for these kids. Exercise and sunshine, builds character, uphill both ways, snow, ect. ect.

    • faifai

      April 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm

      I’m kinda with you. if I were a teenager, stuck in school all day, I’d LOVE to be able to go out and grab a walk. Actually, there’s probably a whole lot of shenanigans and kids acting out during the walks and I bet the teachers hate it. Have you ever seen a group of kids on a field trip? Heh heh heh…

  3. Daisy

    April 8, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    I would just like to put it out there that this is NOT representative of the church as whole, just that one diocese. I went to Catholic schools my whole life, and we always had sex ed. We had to call it “teen ed” and talk about how important it is to wait until you’re an adult in a committed relationship and emotionally ready, etc. and that abstinence is the only 100% effective form of birth control, so if you’re going to use other forms, you better be ready to take responsibility for the consequences, should they occur. (But I think that’s pretty solid advice anyway.) But other than that, I think it was pretty standard, fact-based sex ed.
    And my diocese is run by an extremely hard-core conservative bishop who has made a lot of stupid and controversial decisions. But he never did this. So whatever is going on in New York is a problem with that diocese, and NOT the entire Catholic church.

    • Justme

      April 8, 2013 at 2:56 pm

      My mother was a youth minister at my Catholic church and she taught the ninth grade “Sexuality” course. Ugh. Imagine my embarrassment when my mother was up in front of ALL the kids talking about Herpes and penises.

    • AP

      April 8, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      That clause could be due to some of the content of New York City’s sex education classes over the years. It’s definitely been one that’s pushed the envelope of standard sex-ed sensibilities and attracted a lot of controversy among parents in the system.

  4. Maureen A. Eggert

    April 8, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    This is really weird. I went to Catholic H.S. in the 80s and there was an excellent sex ed class. It was called Love, Sex & Marriage and so was not just sex but it did a good job on the sex part. It explained all birth control methods that were then available (sponges then but no plane B). Of course, being a Catholic school, it was also explained why the church did not approve of just about all of them, but the facts taught were accurate. While I never held with church belief on the matter of b.c. and have since left the church do to its hostility towards gays and what I consider disrespect of women, I still think that the school did an excellent job. Whoever decided to make the kids go elsewhere for sex ed is an idiot an is exercising their opinion and not church teaching.

    • jef3r

      April 8, 2013 at 12:23 pm

      Ha ha ha! YES! Love, Sex, and Marriage…I forgot about that class! Although I do NOT recall learning a single thing about birth control (probably because it was taught by a Salesian and he wasn’t comfortable discussing that with us LOL!).

  5. chickadee

    April 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I don’t have a huge issue with this, since it’s not like the Catholic Church has made a secret of its policies on birth control and premarital sex. They don’t necessarily condemn sex ed, but they aren’t going to condone a program with which they do not agree on their property. I don’t agree with their program, though. I remember a pamphlet that my mother gave me when I was 11. It condemned premarital sex, birth control, and masturbation. Equated them with mortal sins, as I recall. J just assumed I’d be going to hell.

  6. A-nony-mous

    April 8, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    I do second jef3r but even moreso I wonder why so many schools are having to rent churchbuildings. That seems more ridiculous than anything else. For $27 million they could surely build at least a few [smaller] high schools so that they would have more freedom and stability.

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