Poll Shows 85% of New Yorkers Support Sex Education for Youth

Survey Released During National Sex Ed Week Shows Overwhelming Statewide Support for Comprehensive, Age-Appropriate, Medically Accurate Sex Education Across All Demographics

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ALBANY, NY (10/01/2009)(readMedia)-- "Overwhelmingly and virtually unanimously, New York voters say that comprehensive, medically accurate sex education should be part of every child's education," said M. Tracey Brooks, president and CEO of Family Planning Advocates (FPA). FPA released a survey today showing that 77 percent of those surveyed believe that New York public schools already teach sex education. When they were informed that New York does not currently require comprehensive sex education to be taught in schools, a striking 85 percent agree that age-appropriate, medically accurate sex education should be taught in New York State.

"These survey results do not surprise us at all," said Brooks. "We have known for a long time that New Yorkers understand the value of giving young people the information they need to stay healthy. True, comprehensive sex education helps young people create and maintain healthy relationships and helps them make responsible decisions about sex. But the extent to which young people learn these skills varies widely from school to school and even from classroom to classroom," she said.

"Every day in New York State, 110 teens become pregnant and 71 teens are diagnosed with Chlamydia" said Brooks. A nationwide study conducted by the University of Washington found that teens who had comprehensive sex education were less likely to become teen parents than teens who had no sex education or who were in abstinence-only programs. "These statistics equate to tremendous impact on real young people and real families," said Brooks.

The survey also reveals that support for comprehensive sex education programs is consistently high across various demographics: 84 percent of Republicans, 85 percent of seniors, 72 percent of Hispanics, 89 percent of Protestants, 84 percent of Catholics, 87 percent of upstate voters, 89 percent of small town/rural voters, and 86 percent of parents of teens believe that comprehensive sex education should be taught in New York public schools.

Since New York State rejected federal funding for ineffective abstinence-only programs, the state and federal governments have not replaced that funding for evidence-based sex education. As federal budget negotiations continue, FPA urges Congress to support states' goals for reducing teen pregnancies and answer President Obama's call for funding effective sex education programs. These federal dollars need to flow to schools and community-based programs to get young people the information and skills they need to reduce unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Anecdotally, our family planning providers around the state tell us that when their sex education programs are sufficiently funded, unintended pregnancies and incidences of STIs go down in their communities. And, conversely, when funding is down, these rates go up.

"Let's work together toward the common goal of keeping kids healthy and arming them with the information they need to make healthy choices," said Brooks.

Local Events and Activities

Planned Parenthoods around the state conduct active, year round sex education programs. This week Planned Parenthoods nationwide are celebrating National Sex Education Week with special activities and events. Here in New York, this includes a Youth Advocacy Conference set for Saturday, Oct. 3 in Rochester and the launch of the "Go to the Principal's Office" campaign in New York City, which aims to engage parents in developing support for sex ed programs in public schools.

Other types of ongoing sex education activities provided by local family planning providers include:

  • Teen peer education theater groups
  • One-on-one education sessions for both teens and adults
  • "Askability" workshops for parents and other adults
  • Staff development for school personnel
  • Parent dinners and workshops
  • Middle school after-school self-esteem groups

For information about local teen pregnancy and STI statistics, please visit:


On behalf of Family Planning Advocates of New York State, Hart Research Associates of Washington, D.C. conducted this representative statewide survey among 604 registered voters. It was designed to gauge New York voters' understanding of and attitudes toward reproductive health issues in the state. The margin of error for this survey is +/- 4.0 percentage points.

Family Planning Advocates of New York State is a non-profit, statewide organization dedicated to protecting and expanding access to a full range of reproductive health care services. It represents New York's Planned Parenthood affiliates and other family planning centers, as well as hundreds of organizations and thousands of individual members.