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:
Join the Conversation
- Australia to Host Human Tests for New Brain Tumour Treatment
- Ebola Vaccine Shows High Immune System Response In Early Tests; Australia Lifts Travel Ban on Congo
- Ellen DeGeneres Gives El Cajon Man With Viral Weight Loss Video Ford Mustang
- Movember Ends With Shave-Off
- Viral 'Do They Know Its Christmas?' Video With Ed Sheeran, One Direction, Sam Smith Raises $1.5 Million For Ebola In Minutes
- 5 Proofs Russia is Geared-Up for Shooting War with U.S. and Can Win Future Nuclear Showdown
- Target’s ‘Surprise Doorbusters’ Black Friday 2014 Deals On TV Sets, Entertainment Centres, DVD Players And More
- IKEA Black Friday 2014 Ad Includes Discounts On Home Furnishings, Appliances, Kitchen Designs, Beds, Sofas, Mattresses And Toys
- T-Mobile’s Black Friday 2014 Deals On Apple iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy Note 4/Edge, Nexus 6, HTC One M8, LG G3, iPad Air 2 And Mini 3
- ISIS Drug Transit From Afghanistan To Europe Confirmed By Russia: Money Goes Into Terror Funding And In New Recruitments
- ISIS Kidnaps Iraqi Defence Minister’s Family, Executes Female Parliament Candidates
- Bill Clinton At It Again, Caught By Camera In Jerusalem Peeking At Woman’s Breast