Cable news shows continue to lampoon Tennessee’s new law banning the promotion of “gateway sexual activity” in sex-ed classes. Governor Bill Haslam defends the the measure, which he signed Friday.
The law allows parents to sue teachers who condone “gateway sexual activity,” which has been theorized to include kissing or even holding hands. Gray area or not, teachers employed by the school district are specifically protected from legal recourse, meaning only an outside instructor from an organization like Planned Parenthood would be open to a $500 fine.
The bill was promoted by Republican legislators. Governor Bill Haslam says he only signed it because it doesn’t really alter the state’s abstinence-focused curriculum.
“I think if people go back and read the bill, I think they’ll see it’s something different than what it’s been portrayed. Again, I go back to our Department of Education that has said this really doesn’t change the practice what we’re doing in Tennessee.”
However, it’s not just the ACLU and Planned Parenthood who urged the governor to block the sex-ed law. The Tennessee Education Association has said the “ambiguous language” puts teachers in a difficult situation.