Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) has signed a bill that would punish teachers if they discussed “gateway sexual activity” in the classroom.
The amendment describes gateway sexual activity as “sexual contact encouraging an individual to engage in a non-abstinent behavior,” and critics say the language is too broad.
While the bill is meant to stop teachers from talking about groping and oral sex, the bill’s broad language could ban discussions on hand-holding or kissing.
Teachers or groups like Planned Parenthood found in violation of the law can be fined up to $500.
One of groups in support of the bills the Family Action Council of Tennessee, says the new law is a triumph:
“The law in Tennessee is now clear that our schools are to teach students the value of abstinence…For the first time, parents will have meaningful avenues of recourse if teachers or outside organizations teach their child a have-sex-but-just-use-a-condom type of sex education.”
Abstinence-only sex education has not been proven to lower teen birth rates.
In 2011, researchers at the University of Georgia found, “the more strongly abstinence education is emphasized in state laws and policies, the higher the average teenage pregnancy and birth rates.”
Colbert lampooned the controversy on his show, the Colbert Report: