published Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Abstinence-centered bill advancing in Tennessee Senate

Should sex education be abstinence-centered?

NASHVILLE - A measure that would require "family life education" curricula taught in schools to be abstinence-centered is advancing in the Senate.

The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Jack Johnson of Franklin unanimously passed the Senate Education Committee 9-0 on Wednesday night. The companion bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Education Committee next Tuesday.

The legislation has become an alternative to a proposal that seeks to ban the teaching of gay issues to elementary and middle school students.

Johnson's legislation would allow the teaching of safe sex, but the curriculum would have to be "abstinence-centered," emphasizing that abstinence is withholding from "any kind of sexual contact."

Sponsors of the proposal say it's also a tool to address the state's high teen pregnancy rate.

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