City statistics show black and Latino teens are much more likely than whites to have unplanned pregnancies and contract sexually transmitted diseases, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
The Times says the classes are part of an effort by the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg to improve lives of black and Latino teens.
"It's obviously something that applies to all boys and all girls," said Linda I. Gibbs, the deputy mayor for health and human services. "But when we look at the biggest disadvantages that kids in our city face, it is blacks and Latinos that are most affected by the consequences of early sexual behavior and unprotected sex."
The emphasis is to be on getting students to wait until they're older to have sex, while teaching safe sex, with the goal of reducing pregnancies, STDs and students dropping out.
The classes mark the first time in almost two decades the city will require sex-education classes.
Parents can decide to keep their children out of lessons on birth control.
Nationally, one-fourth of teens learned about abstinence between 2006 and 2008 without any school instruction about contraceptive methods, says an analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive health.