Tenn. Pro-Abstinence Sex Education Law Sparks Debate

Judy Hartnett's picture
Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A pro-abstinence sex education law enacted recently in Tennessee has critics warning that it will fail to check the state's teen pregnancy rate, as supporters stand their ground on the need for barring explicit sex education.

The bill, labeled by critics as "no holding-hands bill," was signed into law by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam last month. It prohibits educators from advocating "gateway sexual activity," and uses the criminal statute on sexual assault to specify acts such as groping or fondling.

A New York-based reproductive health research organization, the Guttmacher Institute, is arguing that comprehensive sex education is appropriate and necessary for young people.

"What we know ... from the research is that comprehensive sex education works," said Elizabeth Nash, the institute's state issues manager, according to The Associated Press. "It delays sexual activity, it reduces the number of partners teens have, and it increases contraceptive use.

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