NASHVILLE — Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a bill that bans discussion of “gateway sexual activity” and directs an abstinence-centered approach to sex education in Tennessee public schools.
After earlier voicing indecision about what he intended to do with the legislation, which critics urged him to veto, Haslam went ahead and made the legislation law.
“The bill language and provisions are generally in line with our current standards and law,” Haslam spokesman David Smith said in an email.
The bill says that sex education teachers employed by public schools or outside groups coming into schools cannot encourage “gateway” activities that stop short of actual sexual intercourse.
Critics charged the definitions were too vague, and the bill was lampooned by foes and late-night comics as attempting to ban discussion of kissing and holding hands, which proponents say it does not.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...