Tuesday, July 17, 2012

NSFW: Bloomberg Businessweek on Tennessee's Gateway Sexual Activity Law

Posted By on Tue, Jul 17, 2012 at 11:23 AM

I was just about to take exception to the previous Pith post, which implies the only time Nashville gets any attention from national media is when our legislators and leaders do something reactionary. Fact is, Nashville has been enjoying all sorts of national attention as of late. GQ profiled "The New Nashville", The New York Times discovered East Nashville and I even saw a Music City feature in Southwest Airlines' in-flight mag, Spirit , on a flight last month.

Then I saw this.

You may remember the bill — now law — that introduced the term "Gateway Sexual Activity" into our state's political discussion. The law prohibits curriculum promoting the aforementioned "gateway" activity — the definition of which was the subject of much innuendo, but little detailed discussion on the Hill — and allows for civil action by parents against teachers or outside groups whom they feel have condoned such activities.

An excerpt from the Bloomberg report on a law that is apparently the first of its kind in the nation, after the jump:

In Nashville, Planned Parenthood teaches about 1,000 students a year, said Lyndsey Godwin, education and training director for Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee. The group provides five hours of training that includes discussion of the risks of touching above the waist and oral sex, she said. Parents can keep their children out of the classes.

Planned Parenthood discusses “outercourse” as a form of abstinence and birth control, said David Fowler, president of the Franklin-based Family Action Council of Tennessee, which led the push for the law.

“Outercourse” is defined as “sex play” without vaginal intercourse on Planned Parenthood’s website. It includes all of the activities the law says now can’t be taught.

Because of the law, Godwin said schools probably will stop inviting Planned Parenthood counselors.

Schools often turn to outside groups for sex education, said Barry Chase, director of Planned Parenthood’s Memphis chapter.

“Teachers and administrators operate under a basic fear of how they may be perceived or reprimanded or attacked for providing information about sexuality, which is one of the reasons they bring in outsiders,” Chase said.

The author of the piece, Margaret Newkirk, also reports that the National Abstinence Education Association is encouraging lawmakers in other states to adopt similar legislation.

In May, our own Jonathan Meador examined the issue in the context of the continued tension between the state and Planned Parenthood.

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