Monday, May 7, 2012

Gateway to Absurdity

State law criminalizes “gateway sexual activity.”

It’s the gateway to hell and perdition, that’s what it is. It doesn’t necessarily lead to drugs but it will drag you in the direction of Ess Eee Exx. And while sex is probably not addictive in the traditional sense, it is always and inevitably very bad when unaccompanied by marriage and the procreative urge.

Like anthropology’s search for the “missing link,” or the physicist’s search for a “unified field theory,” psychologists and social workers have spent decades hunting for the mythical gateway drug. This is the drug that, when used regularly, will head you reliably down the path of full-blown addiction. The findings of addiction medicine now make the identification of any kind of universal gateway drug an antique pursuit. Every addict finds his or her own gateway, and pushes through. If any drugs qualify as gateway drugs in a broad sense, it would have to be alcohol and tobacco, simply on the basis of ready availability.

But a gateway for full-blown recreational teenage sex—did you ever think about that? One might have thought the legislators would answer, yes, it’s called puberty, and move on. But no. The Tennessee legislature, led by Rep. Jim Gotto (R), managed to push through a bill  “allowing parents to sue teachers and other outside parties for ‘promoting or condoning gateway sexual activity’ by students.”

Interestingly, the bill apparently fails to define such activity in concrete terms. Evidently, Rep. Gotto has attempted to outlaw “first base.” Or, as TPMMuckraker put it, “other things.” Gateway sexual activity is defined, according to what I shall dub the bill’s "money" sentence, “sexual conduct encouraging an individual to engage in a non-abstinent behavior.” Okay, then. Earnest glances, hair tossing, hand holding—all potentially actionable, should any sex ed teachers be caught “promoting” such activities.

And not without reason: According to data released last month by the National Center for Health Statistics, the states with the highest teen birth rate in 2010 include Tennessee, which ranked 10th worst with 43.2 births per 1,000 teenage girls. And according to a 2009 risk behavior study in Memphis City, 61 percent of high school students have had sex, along with 27 percent of middle school students, putting Memphis City, and by extension Tennessee, considerably above the national average.

Apparently, the real target here is Planned Parenthood, which has been known to provide sex education information in Tennessee schools, and which would be facing fines and penalties under the new law. The bill calls for abstinence-only instruction.

Photo Credit:


Autumn said...

Because, you know, abstinence-only instruction works oh so well.


KeranFlynn said...

Nice article. This new bill must be in protest to the findings that abstinence only sex ed is worse than placebo for preventing teen sex, and by extension, teen pregnancies. It appears that the way people in support of this bill think about the issue is that there has to be some way to encourage "right thinking" among teens, rather than understanding that it's within teen nature to experiment and explore. oh, and many teens are naturally oppositional, so telling them "no" often has the opposite effect. When you add in hormones and the adrenaline from opposing their parents and others, you get an equation that equals what looks like a train wreck. I am often bewildered by the idea that not educating kids about sex (and the consequences of sex) is "better for them". I just want to tilt my head like a puppy and bemusedly say, "Baroo?!?"

Dirk Hanson said...

I remember non-sex education class in junior high. The teacher kept showing slides of diseased tissue and saying, "you play with fire, you get burnt."

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...