As a result of a longstanding but little-known agreement between church and city officials, dozens of city schools that lease church-owned buildings must take students off site for sex education.The unusual arrangement rankles some parents and students who believe students should get sex ed and lessons about HIV/AIDS — which are mandated by law — in their home classrooms.
“It’s crazy,” said Tayshawn Edmonds, 15, of Brooklyn, a 10th-grader at El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice in Williamsburg. The school is housed in a church building on Hooper St. that it rents for $649,000 a year.
To receive annual sex ed lessons, Edmonds and his classmates must trek across the neighborhood to El Puente’s offices at 211 S. Fourth St. The trip takes about 15 minutes on foot.
“The church owns the building, so they call the shots,” said Tayshawn. “But I don’t see why they get to control what we’re doing at our school.”
The city has rented space for public schools from the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn since 2005. The church’s no-sex-ed policy has always been in place. The relationship gives the city access to needed classrooms and provides revenue for the cash-strapped Catholic Church at a time when parochial school enrollment is declining.