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Warren on HPV, sex education bills: 'That’s just pushing it way too far'

Mayor Lovely Warren
Mayor Lovely Warren

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said she “could not be silent” on potential state laws that would mandate the HPV vaccine for children born after 2009 and sex education for all public school students.

Warren said she’s OK with traditional vaccines like those that prevent measles and mumps. But as a mother of a 9-year-old, she said a proposed state law that would require the HPV vaccine is a step too far. 

HPV is a common virus spread through intimate contact that can lead to certain types of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“I want to be able to have those discussions with my child, I want to be able to have those discussions between me, her and her doctor because her not having an HPV vaccine does not endanger anyone else,” said Warren. 

In letters to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state leaders, she also opposed bills that would allow treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and immunizations for kids without parental consent, as well as mandatory sex education as early as kindergarden. 

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“Government cannot continue to take roles away from parents and step in because you’re overstepping,” said Warren. “The fact that we’re talking about legislation to have sex education for kindergartners, that’s just pushing it way too far.” 

Reactions on social media to the mayor's stand were mixed after WXXI News and CITY Newspaper wrote about the letters on Wednesday

Meaghan de Chateauviex of the Willow Domestic Violence Center said she was surprised by the letter, especially the opposition to sexual education in schools. Appearing Wednesday on "Connections with Evan Dawson," she said age-appropriate sex education is a must.

“It’s very much a foundational understanding of what relationships are, and for children to have that at the schools and to be able to talk about it with their friends and have that common shared language is really important,” said de Chateauviex. "It’s a basic foundational skill, and we’re teaching children so many things, but we’re not teaching them how to be a good person. And if that’s not happening in the school system and that’s not happening at home, where are they going to get it?" 

De Chateauviex said she’d welcome a dialogue with the mayor on the matter.

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.