An updated version of Tennessee’s abstinence-based sex-ed bill would include warnings to students that kissing and hand-holding are “gateway sexual activities” and would also prohibit instructors from teaching about contraception.
In a new family life instructions bill, holding hands and kissing could be considered gateways to sex. Planned Parenthood said that allowing state government to define local sex education curriculum could backfire.
According to a 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Study, 61 percent of Memphis City high school students and 27 percent of middle school students have had sex. That’s higher than the national average.
Planned Parenthood said these numbers are why a new sex education bill promoting abstinence is not realistic.
“If the state of Tennessee gets to create the curriculum, it has to create something that umbrella reflects everyone,” said Planned Parenthood Director of Education Elokin CaPese.
Despite the high numbers of students in the state having sex, the focus on abstinence-only instruction may lead to higher teen pregnancy rates and STD rates.
Although sex-ed programs can be an effective tool to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, the politicized nature of the sex-ed debate may do more harm than good.