3 Long Awaited Bills Require The NYC Department of Education To Finally Step Up Their Game On HIV/AIDS Education
Bill 952 Is Supported By The Following Council Members: Laurie A. Cumbo, Ben Kallos, Maria Del Carmen Arroyo, Mathieu Eugene, Corey D. Johnson, Peter A. Koo, Darlene Mealy, Rosie Mendez, Annabel Palma, Donovan J. Richards, Andrew Cohen, Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., Elizabeth S. Crowley, Rafael L. Espinal, Jr., Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Daniel R. Garodnick, Andy L. King, Brad S. Lander, Stephen T. Levin, Mark Levine, Alan N. Maisel, Antonio Reynoso, Ydanis A. Rodriguez, Ritchie J. Torres, Mark Treyger, Jumaane D. Williams, Inez E. Dickens, Vincent J. Gentile, Margaret S. Chin, Deborah L. Rose, Vanessa L. Gibson, I. Daneek Miller, Carlos Menchaca
In an effort to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, with a focus on Black MSM and minority youth, where the virus is out of control, Council Members Laurie Cumbo, Daniel Dromm and Vanessa Gibson introduced 3 Bills that call on NYC public schools to implement a more comprehensive sex education program that develops healthy relationships across different sexual orientations for students citywide. This includes incorporating LGBT issues into the public school sex education curriculum to meet the physical and mental health needs of our young LGBT citizens.
There are over 1,800 schools in the NYC Public School System but only 160 certified HIV/AIDS instructors and about another 400 non-certified to service their needs. It’s like having one cash register at Walmart, you do the math. We both know the numbers are funnier than Chris Rock and tell the sad story of why our children are not being properly educated and tested in school or a community health site. This has been going on for decades because the Department of Education and elected officials have refused to give students the “Life Saving” information to protect themselves from the virus. If “Education is the Gateway To Success” why compromise their future by withholding information that can prevent them from contracting the virus before they even graduate from school.
To control HIV/AIDS we need new policies and by the up-tick of the virus in the Black and MSM Communities it’s obvious we are all doing a poor job. When it comes to a life-threatening disease like AIDS, we cannot play Russian Roulette with our children’s lives. Students are being deprived of a quality education at home, in church and at school. Our children are growing much faster than we did thanks in part to the internet, smart phones and social media. This is more of a reason why we have to arm them with the information needed to protect them from making bad, uneducated choices. The “Just Say No” Policy used by former First Lady Nancy Regan for Drugs is just as much of a failure when it comes to HIV.
MANDATORY HIV/AIDS TESTING AND VACCINE LAWS
The good news is that 3 elected officials have said “enough is enough” and introduced 3 groundbreaking Bills to help get control of the virus. Like smoking and drinking, HIVAIDS is a public health crisis that needs more attention. As we try to be fair and protect the privacy of those living with the virus we have to also think about the innocent students being exposed without their knowledge. There are many parents that are concerned because a simple cut from a fight or nose bleed could be life-threatening. That’s why knowing your status is so important toward getting treatment and preventing the spread of the virus.
There is talk about mandatory testing in the Public Schools. Should students be tested before they enter and graduate from Middle and High School? This would help solve the problem of all those students out there that “don’t know their status” and who continue to subject their peers to the virus without even knowing it.
Would Mandatory Testing for HIV/AIDS in Public Schools protect students the same way Vaccine Policies do? As of Aug. 22, 2014 all 50 states and DC require vaccinations for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles and rubella (49 states and DC also require mumps vaccination). 48 states and DC require varicella (chickenpox) vaccination (Montana and Pennsylvania do not); and 45 states and DC require hepatitis B vaccination (Alabama, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota do not) to enter kindergarten. Some states require Hib, PCV, flu, Hep A, and meningococcal (Men) vaccines to enter kindergarten. Connecticut is the only state to require 10 vaccinations, while Montana has the fewest requirements at 3.
Proponents say that vaccination is safe and one of the greatest health developments of the 20th century. They point out that illnesses including rubella, diphtheria, smallpox, polio and whooping cough are now prevented by vaccination and millions of children’s lives are saved. They contend adverse reactions to vaccines are extremely rare.
Opponents say that children’s immune systems can deal with most infections naturally and that injecting questionable vaccine ingredients into a child may cause side effects including seizures, paralysis and death. They contend that numerous studies prove that vaccines may trigger problems like autism, ADHD and diabetes. The debate will continue as the public explores new ways to get control of HIV/AIDS.
“As Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues, I am calling on the New York City Department of Education to prioritize the health and well-being of our children by implementing a comprehensive sex education program for K-12 students citywide,” said Cumbo. “In order to curb teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted illnesses or diseases such as HIV/AIDS, we must teach students about themselves, their options, and empower them to make informed decisions and cultivate healthy relationships.”
There are nearly 42 million adolescents in the United States and after the family home schools are the primary places responsible for their development. Health education in school can help teens adopt lifelong attitudes and behaviors that support overall health and well-being—including those that reduce their risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and pregnancy.
STUDENTS NEED TO KNOW
Many young people engage in sexual risk behaviors that can result in unintended health outcomes. For example, among U.S. high school students surveyed in 2013:
- 47% had ever had sexual intercourse
- 34% had had sexual intercourse during the previous 3 months, and, of these
- 41% did not use a condom the last time they had sex
- 15% had had sex with four or more people during their life
- Only 22% of sexually experienced students have ever been tested for HIV
- Sexual risk behaviors place adolescents at risk for HIV infection, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and unintended pregnancy
- Nearly 10,000 young people (aged 13-24) were diagnosed with HIV infection in the United States in 2013
- Young gay and bisexual men (aged 13-24) accounted for an estimated 19% (8,800) of all new HIV infections in the United States, and 72% of new HIV infections among youth in 2010
- Nearly half of the 20 million new STDs each year were among young people, between the ages of 15 to 24
- Approximately 273,000 babies were born to teen girls aged 15–19 years in 2013
2013 STATISTICS HIV/AIDS AMONG YOUTH 13-29 IN NYC
- 1,120 new HIV diagnoses among New Yorkers 13-29 years old
- 400 new AIDS diagnoses
- 10,225 living with HIV/AIDS (8.7%ofall PLWHA)
- 41 deaths among youth with HIV/AIDS (4.0 deaths per 1,000 youth with HIVAIDS
Students need to know that only latex condoms are considered effective protection against STDs. Birth control pills, diaphragms, sponges and other contraceptives do not prevent STDs. A lot of men think it’s a good idea to carry condoms in their wallets, but what they don’t know is that exposure to body heat, sunlight and extreme cold can all damage condoms and make them more likely to break.
People with alcohol use disorders are more likely than the general population to contract HIV. Similarly, people with HIV are more likely to abuse alcohol at some time during their lives. Alcohol use is associated with high-risk sexual behavior and injection drug use; 2 major means of HIV transmission. Decreasing alcohol use in people who have HIV or who are at risk for becoming infected reduces the spread of the virus. There are many benefits to making alcoholism treatment an integral part of HIV prevention because a lot of youth need to be educated about the consequences of drinking when it comes to AIDS.
There are a few bold Middle and High School Principals working with community groups and elected officials to reform the DOE’s failing HIV/AIDS education strategy and we applaud each of you for standing up for a student’s right to be properly educated. As the movement for change continues to grow we will keep you informed as to what you can do to improve HIV/AIDS education in our schools. Right now we urge you to contact your City Council Member and make sure they support Bill 952, which you can read below.
Int. No. 952
By Council Members Cumbo, Kallos, Arroyo, Eugene, Johnson, Koo, Mealy, Mendez, Palma, Richards, Cohen, Cornegy, Crowley, Espinal, Ferreras-Copeland, Garodnick, King, Lander, Levin, Levine, Maisel, Reynoso, Rodriguez, Torres, Treyger, Williams, Dickens, Gentile, Chin, Rose, Gibson, Miller and Menchaca
A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to requiring the Department of Education to report information regarding comprehensive health education.
Be it enacted by the Council as follows:
Section 1. Title 21-A of the administrative code of the city of New York is amended by adding a new chapter 7 to read as follows:
Chapter 7. Comprehensive Health Education
- 21-960 Reporting on comprehensive health education curriculum.
- For the purposes of this section, the following term has the following meaning:
Comprehensive health education. The term “Comprehensive health education” means the health education courses, including sexual health education, taught by a certified health instructor in accordance with regulations promulgated by the New York state commissioner of education.
Not later than the first day of December of the year 2016 and on or before the first day of December annually thereafter, the department shall submit to the speaker of the council and post conspicuously on the department’s website in a manner searchable by individual school, a report for the preceding academic year for each community school district and school within such district, which shall include, but not be limited to the following:
The total number and percentage of students in grades six through twelve who have completed at least one semester of comprehensive health education.
The total number and percentage of students in grade six who have completed at least 5 lessons in HIV/AIDS education;
The total number and percentage of students in grades seven through twelve who have completed at least 6 lessons in HIV/AIDS education;
Information regarding the implementation of the comprehensive health education curriculum including, but not limited to; (i) how the department tracks compliance with the comprehensive health education and HIV/AIDS education requirements; (ii) how principals monitor teacher compliance with the sexual health knowledge benchmarks as outlined by the department and, (iii) how the efficacy of the comprehensive health education curriculum is evaluated;
The percentage of students in grades six through twelve who have visited a school nurse or guidance counselor wherein sexual health information is sought; and
The racial and ethnic composition of students.
All information required to be reported by this section shall be aggregated citywide, as well as disaggregated by city council district, community school district and school.
No information that is otherwise required to be reported pursuant to this section shall be reported in a manner that would violate any applicable provision of federal, state or local law relating to the privacy of student information or that would interfere with law enforcement investigations or otherwise conflict with the interests of law enforcement. If a category contains between 0 and 9 students, or allows another category to be narrowed to between 0 and 9 students, the number shall be replaced with a symbol.
- This local law shall take effect immediately.