Dear Parent and Guardian,
As Director of the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office, which has the responsibility of overseeing all parish religious education programs and of providing training and resources to the directors, coordinators and catechists in your parish, I am writing today to express my deep concern regarding the recent decision by the City of New York to mandate sex education classes for all middle school and high school students enrolled in the public schools.
I encourage you, as the first and primary catechist of your children, to prayerfully consider exercising your parental right to opt out and to remove your child/children from these classes, which do not reflect the Catholic understanding of the gift and moral dimensions of human sexuality and certainly do not respect the dignity of each human being.
I want also to remind you that in accordance with the New York Archdiocesan Guidelines for Catechesis, Grades Seven and Eight, your parish religious education does present Catholic Christian teaching on human sexuality in an age-sensitive manner, beginning with the seventh grade curriculum. Your child’s catechist has a copy of these Guidelines and they also are available to you heree here. I urge you to read them.
The Archdiocesan Catechetical Office also coordinates two youth congresses each year, one for seventh and eight graders and the other for high school youth. Chastity is the single theme for the seventh and eighth grade congress every other year and the topic is always addressed with workshops in the high school event. In addition, beginning this Fall, through our parish religious education programs and in collaboration with the Family Life/Respect Life Office, there will be new workshops on Chastity offered for our youth. Be assured that my staff and I are always available to assist religious education leaders, catechists and youth ministers with any questions they or you may have.
In addition, resources have been developed to give you an overview of your legal rights in English and Spanish along with a sample letter in both English and Spanish you can send to your child's principal to have your child excused from the sex education classes. These documents and other useful resources for parents can also be found on the website of the Archdiocesan Family Life/Respect Life Office.
How and when your child learns about human sexuality should be in your hands. Please exercise the responsibility God placed upon you when God gave you your children. Please enable your children to have the Catholic understanding and values regarding human sexuality, so that they might grow up respecting their own human dignity and that of others, and eventually raise their own children to do likewise.
Sr. Joan Curtin, CND