Knoxville News-Sentinel (04.30.12) - Tuesday, May 01, 2012
The Tennessee Senate on Friday approved a House amendment to
SB 3310, sending the sex education guidelines bill to the
governor for consideration.
Under the measure, classroom instructors who promote or
condone "gateway sexual activity" are subject to a $500 fine.
The bill says "gateway sexual activity means sexual contact
encouraging an individual to engage in a non-abstinent
behavior." Some lawmakers objected to that language, calling
it unclear. "Gateway sexual activity is so vaguely defined it
could be holding hands, hugging, anything that teenagers do
like that," said Rep. Mike Steward (D-Nashville).
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jim Gotto (R-Nashville), said the
definition is based on state criminal code. Sexual contact is
the "intentional touching" of another person's "intimate
parts, or the intentional touching of the clothing covering
the immediate area of ... any other person's intimate parts,
if that intentional touching can be reasonably construed as
being for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification,"
according to section code.
Rep. John DeBerry (D-Memphis) spoke out in favor of the bill.
"Everyone in this room knows what gateway sexual activity is,"
he said, noting that leaving teens without classroom guidance
has resulted in the state caring for thousands of neglected or
SB 3310 calls for the family life curriculum taught in schools
to have an "emphatic and exclusive" focus on abstinence;
current law calls only for an emphasis on abstinence. The
measure also allows parents to bring charges against an
instructor for condoning "gateway sexual activity."