NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — State legislators in Tennessee have made it official: Sex toys and graphic promotions of sexual activity are not welcome in public schools.
With the signing into law of SB 3310 by Gov. Bill Haslam, public schools that teach sex education classes must emphasize abstinence, and teachers are barred from promoting “gateway sexual activity” that encourages students to sexually experiment.
“We are very pleased with the passage of the Tennessee law, and we think that it could and should serve as a model for other states to follow,” said Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association.
Tennessee only mandates sex education in school districts where the teen pregnancy rate exceeds a certain rate. But before the new law, some districts brought in speakers and curriculum that included explicit depictions of sexual conduct.
The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACTN) documented a 2010 incident at Hillsboro High School in Nashville when a speaker with Nashville CARES, an AIDS awareness and education program, taught a sex education class at the school. The speaker used anatomically correct models to show students how to perform a graphic sex act. FACTN also noted that in some schools, Planned Parenthood presented sexual education curriculum that included links to its national website.
Huber added that some organizations claim they teach abstinence, but their curriculum goes in a decidedly different direction.
“It’s asking students to creatively think of what kind of sexual activities they can still engage in and not get pregnant,” she said. “Well, that’s not how you and I define abstinence.”
The new law, signed in May, specifically prohibits promoting sexual experimentation and forbids materials that “condone, encourage or promote student sexual activity among unmarried students,” as well as “devices manufactured specifically for sexual stimulation.” It also gives parents the option to sue if a teacher violates the law’s guidelines.