Critics Blast Tennessee's "No Holding Hands" Sex Education Bill
Photo: Katie Tegtmeyer/Creative Commons
From Utah's abstinence only sex education law that was vetoed by the governor to a row over anti-gay literature in State-funded faith schools, sex education is usually a hot button topic.
In Tennessee, The Associated Press reports that the battle is flaring up again with critics blasting what is becoming known as the "No Holding Hands" bill, a piece of legislation that prohibits educators from promoting any form of "gateway" sexual activity:
Spurred by a classroom demonstration involving a sex toy, Tennessee recently enacted a pro-abstinence sex education law that is among the strictest in the nation. The most debated section of the bill bars educators from promoting "gateway sexual activity." But supporters seemed too squeamish during floor debate to specify what that meant, so critics soon labeled it the "no holding-hands bill."
One thing missing from the debate in the Legislature was a discussion of whether the law signed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam last month really would help reduce Tennessee's high teenage pregnancy rate. Experts say it won't and warn that it leaves teenagers inadequately educated about sexuality and prevention of pregnancy and disease.
Of course much of the issue at stake here is whether education is the same thing as "promotion". If the government chooses to tie educators' hands regarding what they can and can't discuss on the topic of sex, pretty soon we end up in a situation where it's easier to not talk about anything at all.
It's a fairly safe bet that most sexually active adults participate in "gateway" sexual activities (assuming I am understanding that term correctly!) as part of their sex lives. So if educators can talk about abstinence, and can talk about contraception/safe penetrative sex, why the heck can't they also talk about other sexual activities, the risks that may be involved, and the ways to minimize those risks?
It's all rather bizarre. But given that sex education delays teen sex, we would be wise to fear ignorance more than we do knowledge.
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