Tennessee: The Stupid "Sexual Gateway" State

MEMPHIS, Tenn.—Let's be frank, shall we? Tennessee is burdened with a state government that is collectively one of the most stupid, if not the stupidest, in the nation. But "stupid" does not begin to describe the actions of these legislative cretins. Criminal is more like it.

In fact, parents in the state who are not themselves afflicted with the same moron genes as so many of their legislators—and certainly their governor—should literally be up in arms. The government is putting their children at serious risk with the passage of a law intended to curtail something they call "gateway sexual activity," which apparently refers to things like kissing, hugging and holding hands. You know, the gateway behavior that leads to harder stuff.

It sounds like an absurd exaggeration when you say that people who think like this seem to living in another century, but it's true! Even as down-home Baptists who believe in the literal interpretation of the bible, these legislators (and the people who support them) do not have the sense God gave a sheep. It would not matter so much if they weren't in positions of power, but they are.

As many people are now aware, Tennessee, which currently boasts the 10th highest rate of teenage births in the nation, has just passed into law SB 3310, which adds certain requirements to what the state calls "family life education" curriculums in public schools. Most notably, it bans any instructions that promotes "any gateway sexual activity or health message that encourages students to experiment with non-coital sexual activity," and "Exclusively and emphatically promote(s) sexual risk avoidance through abstinence, regardless of a student's current or prior sexual experience."

The bill also provides (and encourages) legal action by parents against teachers and other school instructors who violate any of the provisions of the law, which will likely ensure that any useful sex education will never be provided to Tennessee's neediest children.

What makes Tennessee's new law all the more infuriating is that every reliable study on the subject confirms that the more young people know about sex, the more responsibly they tend to behave. New research released just today by the Guttmacher Institute, which will be published in the June issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, only reaffirm those findings.  

According to an abstract of the study, "Women aged 18–29 have higher rates of unintended pregnancy than any other age-group. Information is needed to understand what characteristics are associated with risky contraceptive use practices among this population and to develop new strategies for reducing these women's risk of unintended pregnancy.

"Data related to unintended pregnancy risk were collected from a nationally representative sample of 1,800 unmarried women and men aged 18–29 surveyed by telephone in 2009," it continued. "Among those at risk of unintended pregnancy, multiple logistic regression was used to assess associations between contraceptive knowledge, norms and attitudes and selected risky contraceptive behaviors."

The findings were startling if not surprising. Rsearchers Jennifer J. Frost, Laura Duberstein Lindberg and Lawrence B. Finer determined that "more than half of young men and a quarter of young women received low scores on contraceptive knowledge, and six in 10 underestimated the effectiveness of oral contraceptives."

For those who were informed about contraceptives, however, the benefits were clear. "Among women," the study found, "for each correct response on a contraceptive knowledge scale, the odds of expecting to have unprotected sex in the next three months decreased by 9 percent, of currently using a hormonal or long-acting reversible method increased by 17 percent, and of using no method decreased by 17 percent."

On the other hand, "Fear of side effects, norms and attitudes that favor nonmarital pregnancy or undervalue the importance of contraception, pregnancy ambivalence and mistrust of government's role in promoting contraception were also associated with one or more risky contraceptive use behaviors."

Unencumbered by a rigid world view that restricts their ability to find solutions to real-world problems experienced by real people, the researchers came to an inescapable conclusion. "Programs to increase young adults’ knowledge about contraceptive methods and use are urgently needed," they stated, adding as an obvious addendum, "Given the demonstrated link between method knowledge and contraceptive behaviors, such programs may be useful in addressing risky behavior in this population."

But not in Tennessee, where kids are going to learn nothing about sex. In such a pitiful scenario, where ignorance is exalted by the government, they'd be far better off getting their information from porn, where people never get pregnant but when they do it's from ejaculating on someone's face.