A Good Sex Ed Law in Tennessee Makes Sense

Sometimes I read a newspaper editorial criticizing legislation and I have to wonder if the editor even read what is being criticized. Such was the case with the Tennessean’s recent editorial on a bill dealing with sex education that our organization brought to our legislature for consideration.

About the only thing with which I could agree was the editor’s acknowledgement that the current law is “flawed.” But I strongly disagree with their conclusion that the “flawed” law is “sufficient.” And the editor’s assertion that in fixing our state’s sex education laws our legislators are wasting their time and our money is a flagrant disregard of the cost to taxpayers of teen sex.

First, I had to ask myself why the editors might think the “flawed” law is “sufficient”? It’s sufficient because it’s a liberal’s dream law! There are no definitions in Tennessee’s sex education statutes. So, to Planned Parenthood’s way of thinking (and the editors), since the law doesn’t define “abstinence” it can define abstinence in such a way as to promote every sex act you can think of as long as you can’t get pregnant doing it.

Now does anyone really believe that Planned Parenthood promotes abstinence, as even the current law supposedly requires? If you do, then you need to do some surfing on its website. (If you want to know some of what’s on its website, you can go to this link on our website.) In essence, Planned Parenthood and other liberal sex-related groups can teach all kinds of things that parents would be outraged about and do so without ever batting an eye about whether they are complying with the law.

For example, in the last school year, an organization (not Planned Parenthood) provided some sex education classes to some high school seniors here in Nashville. The father of one of the students was outraged and demanded a hearing before the school board. The story made the news, but what didn’t make the news is what he was complaining about.

Now I can’t know why the media didn’t tell parents exactly what happened, but my guess is that it was too explicit and would have made too many readers uncomfortable to print it or talk about it on television. If so, is there not a certain irony here not to print something that’s too graphic, but allow it to be taught to our kids? [Warning: the next paragraph is very descriptive in case you want to skip it.]

What happened? Well, the instructor from this outside group that was brought into the class told the students that if the guy didn’t want to wear a condom, then the girl should offer to provide him oral sex. And why would a girl be urged to provide oral sex? Because, done the right way, a condom could be put on while performing the act. But that’s not all. The instructor then put a condom in her mouth and showed everyone in the class how to perform oral sex using an anatomical model of the male organ.

An isolated incident? Maybe. But not likely. At the time, this organization had been in about 10 or 11 Nashville schools. And I love what one former Planned Parenthood student from Nashville was quoted as saying in a Tennessean article earlier this year: “Get off the conservative thing. You might be conservative, but your kids are having sex.” Thanks for the parental support, Planned Parenthood.

But, second, the editors said, “It baffles our minds what the legislature chooses to waste time and money on.” Well, let’s help un-baffle them about the monetary aspects of teen sex and the importance of strong sex education programs that promote risk avoidance rather than do-whatever-you-want-just-try-to-reduce-the-risk-of-disease-and-pregnancy programs.

According to a 2007 report from Tennessee’s Comptroller, at that time it was estimated that teen pregnancy cost Tennesseans over $180 million a year. Imagine what it probably costs now.

Maybe legislators have read the studies the editors apparently haven’t read that show that girls who get pregnant in high school are 50% less likely to finish high school and those who do make it through are 50% less likely to finish college. There’s our workforce of the future. I think even liberals would agree that we should do all we can to help our kids avoid the pitfalls that derail their education. And I’m sure employers will tell you that an uneducated or undereducated workforce is not good for the economy.

And maybe the legislators are aware of the study the editors apparently didn’t see that came out from the University of Iowa last year. That study found that kids who have sex as teenagers are about 50% more likely to be divorced within five years of marriage. And maybe the legislators remembered that divorce is one of the leading indicators of poverty. And maybe the legislators, grappling with the budget and taxes, remembered that often poverty drives the cost of the government programs that taxpayers have to pay for.

So, maybe the legislators are more informed and aware of the importance of good sex education than the editors think. And maybe they know it’s time to encourage our kids to avoid the risks of teen sex rather than merely try to reduce the risk. If our legislators can succeed, then we’ll have more kids finish their education, a better workforce, decreased dependence on government welfare program, and significant cost savings to taxpayers.

Sounds to me like our legislators are doing something pretty important for the long term good of our state.