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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Spurred by a classroom demonstration involving a sex toy, Tennessee recently enacted a pro-abstinencesex education law that is among the strictest in the nation.
The most debated section of the bill bars educators from promoting "gateway sexual activity." But supporters seemed too squeamish during floor debate to specify what that meant, so critics soon labeled it the "no holding-hands bill."
One thing missing from the debate in the Legislature was a discussion of whether the law signed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam last month really would help reduce Tennessee's high teenage pregnancy rate. Experts say it won't and warn that it leaves teenagers inadequately educated about sexuality and prevention of pregnancy and disease.
Tennessee's pregnancy rate among girls 15 to 17 has dropped steadily since the first abstinence-focused sex education curriculum was put in place in the 1990s, according to figures from the state Commission on Children and Youth. In 2009, the latest data available, there were 29.6 pregnancies per 1,000 girls, down from a rate of 48.2 in 1998.
Yet the state's teen pregnancy rate remains one of the highest in the nation, according to the New York-based Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization.
Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager for the institute, said state lawmakers across the country began considering more comprehensive sex education programs that talked about abstinence, but also included contraception, about 10 years ago.
Despite declining pregnancy rates around the country, Nash said, there's been a shift by states over the past two years to promote abstinence-only education. A Utah bill that would have prohibited any discussion of contraception or homosexuality in sex education classes passed the Legislature but was vetoed by the governor.
"Our perspective is that comprehensive sex education is appropriate and necessary for young people," she said.
"What we know ... from the research is that comprehensive sex education works. It delays sexual activity, it reduces the number of partners teens have, and it increases contraceptive use. There is very little in the way of any rigorous research that shows that abstinence education has any of these long-term benefits."
Barry Chase, president of Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region, agreed.
"This bill ties the hands of educators in Tennessee and will prevent them from providing the comprehensive education that students want and need and their parents expect," he said.
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What are your thoughts on this?
I personally think it's a stupid law. The government stiking their noses where it doesn't belong again. Apparently the TN ;aw makers don't have teenagers. The more you tell a teenager not to do something the more they are going to want to do it.
Answer by jewjewbee at 1:25 PM on Jun. 25, 2012
Answer by Nimue930 at 1:23 PM on Jun. 25, 2012
Answer by kmath at 2:18 PM on Jun. 25, 2012
Answer by yourspecialkid at 4:34 PM on Jun. 25, 2012
Not realistic at all! I guess since the govt. feels the need to interfere w/ providing adequate education in that area, it will be up to the parents to get over their personal hang ups & have some very frank discussions w/ their children.
Answer by mrsmom110 at 1:35 PM on Jun. 25, 2012
Answer by hopeandglory53 at 4:06 PM on Jun. 25, 2012
Answer by NotPanicking at 10:16 PM on Jun. 25, 2012
Answer by 29again at 11:20 PM on Jun. 25, 2012
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