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Jamestown Public Schools
Jamestown High School health teacher, Michele Schnars, was recently invited to present as part of a panel discussion at the New York State Council on Adolescent Pregnancy (NYSCAP) conference in Albany, NY. The panel of school leaders from Buffalo, Rochester, New York City and Jamestown talked about the value of high-quality comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in their schools and their efforts to support sustainable sexuality education programs. About 60 school and community stakeholders attended the conference.
“I was honored to be asked to present at the conference,” said Ms. Schnars. “The progress in health education that Jamestown has achieved is heavily based on the coordinated efforts of the school, the parents, and the community. With researched based curriculum and trained health educators at the core of our efforts, our school community is continually looking for ways to support teen pregnancy prevention education and skills with all of our youth through the support and collaborative efforts of school, community agencies, students and the students’ families. As a health educator, I’m so happy to be involved in this conference and will be bringing back additional CSE ideas to my district so that we can continue our progress with this crucial health topic.”
The statewide conference’s goal was to educate school and community partners, including legislators on the importance of comprehensive sexuality education in schools that is medically accurate, developmentally appropriate kindergarten to grade 12, and bias-free as part of a comprehensive health education program taught by certified educators. NYS Education Department Commissioners Regulations currently requires that elementary and secondary school curriculum include a sequential health education program for all pupils K-6 and a half year course in both middle and high school. Family life/sexual health education is not required.
A growing body of research shows that comprehensive sexuality education increases parent-child communication, delays the onset of sexual activity, reduces the frequency of sexual activity and number of sexual partners, increases condom and contraceptive use, and decreases unintended pregnancy, STDs, including HIV, and dating violence. It has been linked to academic achievement and student success. It is also one of the recommendations in Governor Cuomo’s Blueprint to End the AIDS Epidemic, released in April 2015.
As part of her trip to Albany, Ms. Schnars was also able to speak to NYS assembly members and legislators about the importance of age-appropriate, standards-based comprehensive sexuality education in the schools.