A new mandate that will require New York public middle and high schools to implement sex education classes providing graphic details and descriptions of various sexual acts has the Christian movement "True Love Waits" calling for an abstinence alternative to the programs.
The movement, created by LifeWay Christian Resources, "challenges teenagers and college students to make a commitment to sexual abstinence until marriage" and "utilizes positive peer pressure by encouraging those who make a commitment to refrain from pre-marital sex to challenge their peers to do the same," according to its website.
"Although True Love Waits is not directly involved in school abstinence programs, our team has long recognized that education is the first step in leading students to make a commitment to refrain from sex until marriage," said "True Love Waits" spokeswoman Dawn Cornelius in a statement.
"We owe it to students to give them a positive message about the benefits of remaining abstinent until they get married, and to warn them about the physical and emotional consequences that can result from pre-marital sex."
Many Christian parents and organizations are behind the movement for an abstinence alternative program, and some say that although many politicians and school officials claim that these types of programs do not work, this is simply not true.
"It's wrong to force them [parents] to choose between what the city is planning and no sex education at all," said former Democratic Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, who is heading the NYC Parents' Choice Coalition that is pushing for the abstinence-based alternative. "Parents who want a more traditional, abstinence-based sex education curriculum for their children should be able to have that."
The NYC Parents' Choice Coalition cites research on its website showing that certain abstinence programs have had a significant effect in lowering sexual activity among teens and states that, contrary to popular belief, the programs do provide information about birth control.
"Special interests will tell you that abstinence centered programs constitute 'sticking our heads in the sand' by providing students no information about contraceptive methods, but again, this is simply not true," the website says. "Many abstinence-centered programs contain plenty of information about contraceptive methods: how frequently they fail to protect young people from pregnancy and STDs, and how condoms provide limited protection against HPV and herpes. These are real-world, medically accurate facts that should influence a child's decision about whether he or she should be sexually active outside a long-term mutually monogamous relationship such as marriage."