The New York City Council unanimously passed a bill, on Wednesday, May 10, to create a sexual health education task force. The bill was sponsored by Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, chair of the Committee on Women's Issues and co-chair of the Women's Caucus.
"As a city, we must empower our students to make informed choices by standardizing sexual health education in our classrooms and ensuring that our curriculum is comprehensive, age-appropriate, reflective of our student body, compliant with state law and taught by qualified and trained educators," said Council Member Cumbo, representing the 35th District which covers Bedford-Stuyvesant, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Fort Greene and Prospect Heights. "We must be a city that is leading and not trailing behind the movement towards high-quality health and sex education for all, because we accept all people for who they are and celebrate their choice to love whomever."
The task force, comprising of a minimum of nine members, will include experts in sexual health education and in the field of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and gender non-conforming health education. Additionally, at least one teacher, a guidance counsel or social worker from the New York City public school system, as well as two high school students and one representative from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will be selected for the task force. Mayor Bill de Blasio will appoint the members after consultation with the speaker of the Council, Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. The task force is required to submit a report with its findings and recommendations to the mayor and the speaker by December 1, 2017. It subsequently may continue to make ongoing findings and recommendations as deemed necessary.
"It is essential that diverse and multidisciplinary perspectives are employed when creating a curriculum and teaching about human sexuality ranging from the biology of sexuality to sexual health education, gender identity and expression, as well as healthy relationships. It is about developing a healthy self-image, your identity, gender role, learning how to express yourself and your boundaries," concluded Cumbo.