recent article on the new textbook publishing in Texas [“The
Education Censors,” March 24] has left many New Yorkers with
a bad taste in their mouths. The idea of waiting till marriage
and the practice of abstinence works; however, only to those
who have a strict belief, and/or if it is of their own choosing.
There are families who raise their children and promote the
practice of “no sex” in the household, whether it be religion
or moral values, but once those teenagers are out the door,
it is no longer of the parents’ wanting. It is their own choice
of what they do. Therein lies a fault in the “abstinence only”
The idea of Texan conservatives planning to omit the teaching
of safe-sex practices, i.e., condoms and birth control, is
not only an adolescent thought, but is putting us back in
the 1960s where the basis of living was “out of sight, out
of mind.” What we need to think about is whether we would
rather have a sexually active teenager aware of contraceptives
and how to use them properly, or a sexually active teenager
having unprotected sex because they were not fully aware of
If that’s the belief in Texas then, by all means, have that
be their choosing. But what fears many of us here in New York
is that structure of living will be brought to where we live
and be declared mandatory.
Censorship through the government is becoming a tighter corset
around each of our lives. With the ongoing struggle of being
held back from our First Amendment rights of free speech and
the right of knowledge, we have to ask ourselves, how far
will it go? And what exactly did our ancestors fight so long
and die for?
you for publishing Tom Hilliard’s article about sex-education-textbook
censorship. This is an important issue that does not often
receive the attention it deserves.
However, I would like to address one inaccuracy in the piece.
Hilliard writes, “New York State has never endorsed the abstinence-only
approach and probably never will.” While it is true that New
York state does not require abstinence-only curricula,
your readers should know that New York state spends approximately
$10 million per year ($7.1 million from the federal government,
and $2.6 million in matching funds from the state) for abstinence-only-until-marriage
sex-education programs. Currently, there is no dedicated funding
at the state or the federal level for comprehensive sex education—the
type of sex education that has been proven the most effective
in preventing unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted
To combat this problem, Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood is
working in coalition with Family Planning Advocates of New
York State and over 100 community organizations to raise awareness
about the issue of sex education, and to advocate for the
passage of “The Healthy Teens Act” (A.6619 – Gottfried). This
landmark legislation would establish a grant program for comprehensive,
medically accurate, age-appropriate sex-education programs
in our public schools.
There is a lot of work to be done and we need help from the
community. To join UHPP in the campaign for real sex education
in New York State, please visit us on the Web at www.getthefactsny.org.
President/CEO, Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood
article on the Terri Schiavo case [“Life Is Relative,” Newsfront,
March 24] leads me to put my two cents in, as I’ve not heard
anyone speak from the agnostic point of view. Do these religious
people who opposed removing her feeding tube believe there
is a heaven? Do they believe an all-American girl raised by
such pious parents should be bound for heaven? If so, what’s
the problem? This is part of a philosophical argument older
than Christianity. One person will say there is a heaven and
a person must have certain beliefs to get in. The other person
will ask if this first person believes this, why not commit
suicide now. The first will say because committing suicide
is a sin. The second might ask if killing in war is a sin,
if a general ordering people to their deaths is not a sin
but if he commits suicide it is, etc.
If the taboo against committing suicide, assisted suicide,
or turning off a feeding tube is lessened, than the power
of the sin argument would be lessened. This is what drives
One of the things religious people ask agnostics is, “Has
science answered all your questions?” Without science, Terri
Schiavo would have been dead 15 years ago.
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