I was sent an article about a new Tennessee law. At first I thought it was a joke. Something left over from April Fools Day, poking fun at the sometimes backward thinking of Appalachia. They could not possibly be serious. But it would seem that this is not a joke, despite the new material the State has just given the late night talk shows.
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." (MSNBC)
Gateway sexual activities? "Kissing and hugging are the last stop before reaching Groin Central Station, so it's important to ban all the things that lead to the things that lead to sex,"says Gov. Bill Haslam. Clearly Gov. Haslam has forgotten what it was like to be a teenager. And clearly he cannot read, because any governor putting forward and abstinence only program of sex education should at least have paid a bit of attention to the numerous studies about the failures of abstinence only programs. A quick search of the Internet will show that these programs do not lead to a reduction of teenage pregnancies or reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. And as the article points out, Tennessee has the seventh-highest teen birth rate in the nation and the 11th-highest HIV infection rate in the nation. By ignoring this fact alone, the government of the state is doing its citizens a disservice.
Said State Rep. Jon Lundberg:
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
What Mr. Lundberg fails to take into account is that the kids already have sex on their minds. It is biological, fueled some say by media (something that I do not fully support) and it is unavoidable. Rather than putting your head in the sand, you should be teaching the kids exactly what to do, how to do it correctly and how to prevent bad things from happening.
Because simply telling them they cannot, is not a workable solution. It never has been and it never will be.