New Law in Tennessee Shows ‘Gateway Sex’ the Door
On Friday, Gov. Bill Haslam’s office confirmed that Gov. Haslam has signed the controversial bill into law. Even comedian Stephen Colbert chipped in on the nationwide controversy saying on his “Colbert Report” Television show, “Kissing and hugging are the last stop before reaching Groin Central Station, so it’s important to ban all things that lead to the things that lead to sex.” However, supporters of the law say that the new law clearly defines the abstinence-only sex-education policy of the state.
Under the new law, teachers can be disciplined and speakers can be fined up to $500 for either promoting or condoning “gateway sexual activities.” While school district employees would be exempted from prosecution under the law, sexual education instructors can be sued by parents.
The president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, David Fowler clarified to the media that despite controversy, the law does not ban kissing or holding hands from discussion in sex education classes. However the law prohibits ‘touching’ of ‘gateway body parts’ that include genitals, buttocks, breasts and the inner thigh.
State Rep. Jon Lundberg said on NBC station WCYB-TV on Thursday that Tennessee has the seventh-highest teen birth rate in the nation and it has the 11th-highest HIV infection rate in the nation. He said abstinence is thus necessary, and “The shift is that the main core needs to be an abstinence-based approach. Not, ‘hey, I know everybody’s having sex so when you have sex do this, do this … do this,’ That’s not it.”
The bill passed the Senate 28-1 and cleared the House 68-23. However, Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee and state teachers’ union are up in arms and studying the law to find points that can be criticized. They are worrying that discussion of sexual behavior could be interpreted as condoning it.
Fowler told the media that the new law became necessary when the lawmakers learned of incidents where teachers were instructing about alternate sexual practices to have sexual gratification without pregnancy. Fowler also mentioned a Planned-Parenthood organized program at a Knoxville school where students were directed to a web site listing methods of oral sex and anal sex. Something, that most Tennessean parents would find difficult to approve when initiated from the premises of schools.
May 12, 2012