New York politicians and parents are up in arms over new sex-ed curriculum required for sixth- and seventh-graders at city public schools starting next spring. The curriculum pushes for abstinence but also teaches condom use and alternative ways of having sex.
At the focus of their furor is Columbia University's Go Ask Alice Web site, a sex-education site with the same name as a controversial 1971 book that tells the life story of a troubled teenage girl. The site is on the new curriculum’s recommended resources list.
The New York Post reports that some think the site tackles topics too mature for middle-schoolers, including sadomasochism, sexual positions, fetishes, pornography and more. The site has been praised in the past for offering information about sex to students in a safe, academic online forum.
Leading the charge against New York’s new curriculum and the Go Ask Alice Web site are the NYC Parents’ Choice Coalition and three Republican elected officials, including State Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-East Shore/Brooklyn).
Malliotakis calls the new curriculum “explicit and graphic.”
The assemblywoman cites as especially troubling the inclusion of the “Go Ask Alice” Web site on the recommended resources list, because it touches on topics like pornography, “swing clubs” and foot fetishes.
Deb Levine, Executive Director and Founder of the Go Ask Alice site, says it was never intended to be for sixth and seventh graders, but for college students.
Slate’s J. Bryan Lowder acknowledges that the site may be geared for a college-age person. But he is one of many people now speaking out to say the site shouldn’t be dismissed altogether. Lowder writes:
The main mission of Alice is to provide a forum for solid, professionally moderated health advice on any sexual issue, from the most vanilla encounter to the deepest dungeons of kink (not to mention its wide-ranging coverage of non-sexual issues like nutrition, exercise, and stress management). In other words, your kid could do a great deal worse on Google.
A glance at the site today shows a similar range of topics, including sexual topics such as “Non-latex condoms” and “Easing orgasms for women,” but also health topics like “Armpit staph,” “Does eating fat keep the body warm in winter,” and “Stress is a pain in the neck — literally!”