Tennessee has the tenth highest rate of teenage births in the United States. At Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region, we hear every day from young people who say they were never taught the facts about sex and pregnancy prevention. That’s why we were especially disappointed today to hear that Governor Bill Haslam had signed a bill that guts the state’s “family life” sexuality education program.
HB 3621/SB 3310, signed by Governor Haslam today, will change Tennessee’s family life curriculums to “exclusively and emphatically promote sexual risk avoidance through abstinence, regardless of a student’s current or prior sexual experience”—effectively denying students valuable and even life-saving information about contraception and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections.
This new law also allows teachers or outside contractors to be sued for “encouraging” or “condoning” nonspecific “gateway sexual behavior.” Some critics have speculated that teachers could even be held liable if students hold hands or kiss in their presence.
Tennessee governor Bill Haslem signed the “Gateway Sexual Activity” bill in to law, which sailed through the state legislature by a landslide vote. The sex police have declared that teachers who discuss safe sex or contraception will be fined and may be sued. Abstinence is the only option that may be taught. Holding hands and kissing is to be discouraged as a “gateway activity” to sex. Why have sex education at all? If kids can’t be fully informed of all of the options available to prevent disease and pregnancy, what’s the point? I think they would probably get much better information on their own. Hello, Google.