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Tennessee: Let’s Talk About Sex

You may recall that recently here on the Life360 blog I reported the shocking news that research has shown that comprehensive sex education helps lower the teen pregnancy rate. As reported in that blog post it turns out states with comprehensive sex education have seen a major decrease in teenage pregnancy.

“Mississippi, for instance, continues to have the highest teen birth rate, with 55 births per 1,000 girls while New Hampshire has the lowest rate falling just under 16 births per 1,000 girls. Mississippi does not require students to receive pregnancy prevention.” source

So states that lack comprehensive sexual education (which means teaching abstinence only) have not seen the same decrease as sates that do. As it turns out, the 10 states with the highest teen pregnancy rates can’t figure out what they’re doing wrong.

So Tennessee has stepped up with a new plan to combat teen pregnancy. No, not educating teenagers on safe sex. In stead they are going to focus their energy on banning “gateways sexual activity.”

“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.”

Parents could sue outside sexual education instructors, according to the Tennessean newspaper, while school district employees would be exempt from prosecution.”

Gov. Bill Haslam has signed the bill. “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,” Haslam said on the “Colbert Report” television show.

Tennessee I have something to say:

Dear Tennessee,

Please pull your head out of the sand. Stop wasting time on useless legislation about “gateway activities” and tell your kids how to prevent pregnancy and disease. Did you know that one in five of your Tennesseans are stuck below the poverty line? Or that metropolitan Memphis ranks as the most impoverished large metro area in the nation? Yet your Governor is worried about teenagers kissing and hugging? I’m going to give a small piece of advice. If you prevent teen pregnancy, you prevent poverty. Just saying.



(A concerned Californian who had comprehensive sex education in a public school and didn’t have children until she was 24 and been married for five years)

16 Responses to “Tennessee: Let’s Talk About Sex”

  1. Holly

    Education is the key and knowledge is power. These kids need their parents and educators working together to educate them and steer them through this.

  2. Abby B.

    Groin Central Station? Are you kidding me? Okay I'm all for sex ed, I am not stupid parenting. Ignoring a problem, or creating a fence of rules around them to try to avoid them is the Worst way to train a child in the way they should go. Let's be honest with our kids and more importantly, ourselves.

  3. Sofian

    Teaching about Sex in the early ages is important … I found one book is really helping … How and When to Tell Your Kids About Sex by Brenna Jones and Stan Jones. Our kids must know God's design for Sex so when they grow they don't use sex just for pleasure (sex before marriage), but they use sex in their marriage to glorify God.

  4. Stephanie

    I believe that sexual education is definitely an essential to be acquired in schools because it is a place where others can be in an environment where he or she feels comfortable. (in my instance at least) Some teenagers do not receive the sex talk from their parents because some parents are nervous and uncomfortable to talk to their children about it. My parents never talked about it with me, and I learned so much in sex ed at school. Teenagers just need to learn the proper precautions to take and the outcome of his or her consequences when he or she decides to become sexually active.

  5. Angie B.

    I think the legislation they are proposing is ridiculous. It's almost religious stand points it sounds to me. So a girl can't hug her best friend. A teen couple that have been dating for a year aren't allowed to kiss each other. I think that's absurd. Just teach the kids about sex the proper way. If there are parents that have a problem with it or wanna do it their way there could be an opt out. Either way I think kids need to know the truth, not sensationalized or scare tactics. Just the truth

  6. dpapsis2

    Banning gateway activities this is ridiculous. Sex Education, talking to your kids and providing real information and resources is what gives teens the knowledge and access to appropriate avenues- whatever that may be.

  7. rebeka deleon

    i grew up from NH so i like hearing that we have the lowest rate. We had to take sex education and learn about all the things you could catch. also, had to watch a birthing video which made us want to not have kids at that time. lol

  8. Wendy Timms Kudwa

    I have a 15 year old with a girlfriend. I have come to the conslusion i cannont stop him from having sex but I can teach him to be safe for himself and for her! Believe you me I have talked to both of them over and over again about waiting, You have to teach both!!!

  9. Angie

    The more you tell someone not to do something, the more they want to do it….especially kids/teenagers. Provide more opportunities and activities for the kids so that sex isn't something to do cuz 'there's nothing else to do".

  10. Kristin

    Groin Central Station. I can't get past that term. Ugh. I don't even know what word describes how ridiculous this is. I mean, it's not like teenage pregnancy doesn't lead to a whole host of issues that plague families, communities, and society in general. It's plain sad.

  11. shirley zolenski

    Wow. That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. I really don't even know what to say. I believe in abstaining from sex but I also want her to know how to prevent pregnancy and to not be afraid to come to me about these issues.

  12. JoAnna Moses

    It's just another example of our countries ignorant attempts to keep women disenfranchised. Abstinence only sex education and programs like this do nothing to prevent teen pregnancies and the spread of STIs. If politicians would start reading legitimate research rather than saying that God is instructing them to take away birth control and the women's rights, there may be more hope for this country.

  13. miriama

    No one here is arguing with you. That is the person I would like to talk to. I am appalled that we are still having this discussion. Not you..but America. Ignorance is NOT bliss. A lot of kids will have sex. So the least we can do is prepare them, get them to think about it, talk about it and for some, prepare for it. I remember taking a young man to shop for his first condom. He was having sex, his friends were getting their girlfriends pregnant and he didn't want to be part of that. We talked for a long time and with permission from his mom I took him to the store. I would rather do that than shop for baby clothes when he was 16.

  14. Julia

    This is not shocking to me at all. Having graduated about a year and a half ago from high school and completing a year of college, I would often catch bits and pieces of my peers' conversations: "Can you really get pregnant just from…" "I'd know if I were pregnant by now because it's been three days," "He said it'll be ok," etc. etc. ALL of these people, all my age (16, 17, 18, 19) had NO idea what they were talking about, and were putting themselves at risk because of it.
    Thankfully, growing up I had a very open-minded midwife for a mother who was also not shy in the least when approaching the topic of sex with me. I feel that because of her willingness to talk to me instead of shunning the subject, I grew up more safe, responsible, and informed.
    Knowledge really is power.


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