Students in New York City will be required to take sex education classes that include lessons on how to use a condom - a curriculum that the head of the school system said is long overdue.

The New York Times reported that it's the first time in nearly two decades that middle and high school students will be forced to take the mandatory classes. One of the lessons includes instruction on how to properly use a condom.

"We must be committed to ensuring that both middle school and high school students are exposed to this valuable information so they can learn to keep themselves safe before, and when, they decide to have sex," NYC School Chancellor Dennis Walcott wrote in a letter to principals and obtained by Fox News Radio.

Children as young as 11-years-old will take part in discussions on a variety of topics ranging from the risks of unprotected sex to the appropriate age for sexual activity, the newspaper reported.

Sex Education Returning To NYC Schools: MyFoxNY.com

"I believe the school system has an important role to play with regard to educating our children about sex and the potential consequences of engaging in risky behavior," he said.

But there are concerns about the mandatory classes among New York City's religious community. Ray Parascando, pastor of Crossroads Church, called the news "disheartening."

"Children are being forced to learn about this away from home," he told Fox News Radio. "There's nothing wrong with learning about the human body, but when you start going into discourses on sexuality, I worry that we're opening students up to other agendas."

Walcott said New York City students are having sex before they turn 13 and others have had multiple sexual partners. He said it's imperative that children know how to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases.

Parents will have the option to pull their kids out of "certain sex education lessons" including birth control methods, Walcott said.

"But I also feel we have a responsibility to offer our students access to information that will keep them safe and healthy," Walcott told principals. The New York Times reported that condoms have been distributed in public schools for more than 20 years - but now, teachers will describe how to use them.

Pastor Parascando said the lessons on condom usage send the wrong message to students.

"We're saying to children it's okay to have sex outside of marriage," he said. "In essence for the sake of looking like we are education children, we are sacrificing their innocence."

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