Church Slams New NYC Sex Ed Mandate Lessons may be barred from premises when schools rent from archdiocese By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Posted Aug 11, 2011 2:41 AM CDT 15 comments Comments Archbishop Timothy Dolan is seen at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, Pool) (Newser) – Mandatory sex education is returning to public middle and high schools in New York City after nearly 20 years, and the Catholic church isn't happy about it. A spokesman for the archdiocese says the mandate "allows the public school system to substitute its beliefs and values for those of the parents," the New York Times reports. Public schools that rent space from the church may be forced to hold the sex education classes elsewhere. The new curriculum emphasizes abstinence, but the church objects to the fact that lessons on contraception will also be included, and plans to encourage parents to exercise their right to opt out of that part of the program. "We don’t say that about cigarettes,” an archdiocese lawyer says. “We don’t say, here’s a filtered cigarette—it’s better than a Camel." A former Board of Education official says the church isn't the same political powerhouse it was in the early '90s, when a controversy over condoms scuppered mandatory sex education. "That choir has been silenced," he tells the Wall Street Journal.