Tennessee Passes "Gateway Sexual Activity" Bill May Criminalize Handholding In School
By Erica Chang | May 1, 2012 5:46 AM EST
Tennessee's House of Representatives has passed a bill updating the state's abstinence-based sex education law to specifically aim at the prevention of "gateway sexual activity." Senate Bill 3310 defines "gateway sexual activity" as "sexual contact encouraging an individual to engage in a non-abstinent behavior," though the term "sexual contact" is not defined in the bill.
"Gateway sexual activity is so vaguely defined it could be holding hands, hugging, anything that teenagers do like that, " said Democratic Rep. Mike Stewart (Nashville) according to KnoxNews.
The legislation essentially forbids teachers and third-party instructors from discussing "gateway sexual activity," and was passed in a controversial effort to curb teen pregnancy. A local media outlet WMC-TV reported, "According to a 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Study, 61 percent of Memphis City high school students and 27 percent of middle school students have had sex. That's higher than the national average."
However, while on the House floor, Stewart said that studies have shown that abstinence-based sex education does not work in lowering teen pregnancies.
The bill would allow parents to take legal action against teachers who promote or condone "gateway sexual activity," and instructors who violate the bill may be subject to a $500 fine. Organizations such as Planned Parenthood, which provide sex education information in schools, could also be subjected to the fine. Furthermore, the bill will prevent the distribution of contraception on school property.
Some critics have complained that under the bill, teachers would be held liable for breaking up hugs and kisses. But Republic Rep. John DeBerry, a support of the bill, argues that it is easy to identify "gateway sexual activity."
"I think you and I both would know when we're looking at a kiss, and when we're looking at, for a lack of a better way of saying it, someone who is trying to open the door to more activities," said DeBerry, as reported by WReg.
Several organizations have spoken out against the legislation. "This is not something we've asked for, nor do we wish to police the sexual activities of students," said President of the Memphis Education Association Keith Williams. "That is something that squarely belong in the home, at the churches and synagogues."
The bill passed the House 68-23, with only one Republican voting against it.
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Taylor Swift Named People's Best Dressed Stars Of 2014 [PHOTOS]
- Champions League Results: Barcelona Barely Escapes With A Win, Chelsea Fails To Hold On To The Lead [PHOTOS]
- Jeremy Lin, Kobe Bryant Among The Top 5 Overpaid Players In The NBA (Part 1 - Western Conference)
- Reasons Why Michael Jordan Is Better Than LeBron James [PHOTOS And VIDEO]
Join the Conversation
- Sugar Is The Major Cause Of Obesity: Top 5 Ways To Reduce Your Sugar Intake
- Ebola Survivors' Blood Sold in Black Market, WHO Warns Buyers of Risks Including Death
- Jennifer Lopez's Diet and Fitness Secrets Revealed: Ways by Which She Keeps Her Lower Body Toned
- Hip Hop Mogul Russell Simmons Says In New Book That Meditation and Yoga Can Make You Rich
- Kids Whose Parents Went To College Eat Healthier, Study Finds
- 2 Reasons Nexus 6 Release Date is Worth the Wait: Android L Data Encryption & Material Design
- Unofficial ‘Samsung Galaxy Alpha’ Can Now Be Purchased For $700 In The US
- Google Now v. Siri v. Cortana – Comparison Of The Three Leading Virtual Assistants
- iOS 8 Jailbreak Release Update: Pangu Devs Will Outrace Evad3rs in Rollout of iPhone 6, iPad Unlocker
- Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, Xperia ZR Android 4.4.4 KitKat Update Guide
- Canada Consumer Alert: Costco No Longer Accepting American Express Cards Starting Jan 1
- Sony Xperia E3 vs. Moto G (2014) – Specifications, Features And Price Showdown