New Tennessee Law Bans Sex Ed Instructors From Teaching 'Gateway Sexual Activity'

A new Tennessee law will make the state's sex education policies even stricter: teachers are now barred from condoning any genital contact, which is considered "gateway sexual activity."

According to Family Action Council of Tennessee President David Fowler, sex education instructors can reference kissing and hand-holding, but not the touching of "gateway body parts" (genitals, breasts, ass, inner thighs).

State Representative Jon Lundberg explained his support of the bill to a local NBC affiliate.

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, [and] do this.' That's not it.

Lundberg believes this is important because has the seventh-highest teen birth rate in the nation, and the 11th-highest HIV infection rate.

Of course, the so-called "gateway sexual activities" of oral sex and other genital stimulation are an alternative to vaginal sex, which leads to pregnancy and carries a much higher risk of HIV contraction. Acknowledging these practices is a more practical approach to sex education, especially given the fact that abstinence-only sex education doesn't work.

And the law seems to target Planned Parenthood in particular. Fowler claims the group was directing students to a website encouraging them to engage in oral and anal sex to prevent pregnancy. Planned Parenthood maintains that this just isn't true.

Lyndsey Godwin, manager of education and training for Planned Parenthood, told Reuters the idea that her group was encouraging such behavior was "utterly false." She said that while Planned Parenthood educators may answer a student's question by agreeing that anal and oral sex don't lead to pregnancy, they also emphasize the disease risks.

She went on to point out that abstinence is not a realistic option for many young people today. I mean, seriously, it's like these legislators never turn on The CW.

Teachers aren't happy about the law either: they argue it's vague language makes it difficult to know what aspects of sex are up for discussion. Tennessee Education Spokesman Jerry Winters said that, "It does focus on abstinence, but in this modern world to say that 'just say no' is the answer to teenage pregnancy is putting your head in the sand."

Which is the nice way of saying, "Enjoy your increased teen pregnancy rates, ostriches."

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