Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tennessee governor enacts “gateway sexual activity” bill

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No holding hands

As expected, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) has signed into law the state’s new policy of dealing with sex education and teen pregnancy by telling kids to, like, please stop touching and kissing and doing it ’cause there’s no other way to do it safely than not to do it at all, m’kay?:

Tennessee teachers can no longer condone so-called "gateway sexual activity" such as touching genitals under a new law that critics say is too vague and could hamper discussion about safe sexual behavior.

Governor Bill Haslam's office Friday confirmed that he had signed the bill, which stirred up controversy nationwide […]

But proponents say the new law helps define the existing abstinence-only sex-education policy.

Under the law, Tennessee teachers could be disciplined and speakers from outside groups like Planned Parenthood could face fines of up to $500 for promoting or condoning "gateway sexual activities."

David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, which pushed the bill, said it does not ban kissing or holding hands from discussion in sex education classes. But he said it addresses the touching of certain "gateway body parts," including genitals, buttocks, breasts and the inner thigh.

It is unclear from the bill's wording whether Tennessee teachers could promote masturbation.

The bill sailed through the legislative session, passing the Senate 28-1 and the House 68-23.

Opponents, which include Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee and the state teachers' union, say that before they can begin fighting the new law, they have to be able to figure it out.

Ah, that age-old Republican mantra: If there’s a problem, stick your head in the sand until it just goes away. And when it comes to kids doing the hunky-funky, tie them up using your well-clutched pearls until they just can’t do anything anymore. ’Cause why bother teaching them about how to do things correctly and safely when you can just nag them stupid and then bask in self-satisfaction while they tear their clothes off anyway within five seconds after leaving your sight?

It’s an odd phenomenon. We have piles upon piles of research that clearly shows how better and comprehensive sex education directly results in safer underage sexual activity and fewer teen pregnancies, and conservatives react by completely ignoring this and instead operating under the delusion that kids might finally just ignore their hormonal urges if only adults would wag their fingers at them hard enough.