Gov. Haslam signs 'gateway sex' bill backing abstinence

Gov. Haslam signs 'gateway sex' bill backing abstinence

May 11th, 2012 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

POLL: Should sex education be abstinence-centered?

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.