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Ohio Republicans Want To Ban Sex Ed Classes From Talking About ‘Gateway Sexual Activity’ Or Teachers Could Be Faced With A $5,000 Fine. Oh, And This Is Part Of The State Budget Talks.




During a debate over Ohio’s budget on Tuesday afternoon, Republicans in the House tacked on an amendment that would prohibit health classes in public schools from including any instruction on “gateway sexual activity,” which encompasses all sexual contact. The budget bill relies on the same definition of “sexual contact” that also appears in the state’s criminal code: “any touching of an erogenous zone of another, including without limitation the thigh, genitals, buttock, pubic region, or, if the person is a female, a breast.”
Under the amendment, sex ed classes wouldn’t be permitted to provide students with any information that might “condone” that type of gateway activity. That includes dispensing contraception. The legislation would also empower parents to sue if their children end up receiving this type of sexual instruction, and sex ed teachers could be subject to thousands of dollars in fines:
The sex education addition says that any instruction conducted under the state’s model health education program must not promote “any gateway sexual activity or health message that encourages students to experiment with sexual activity.”
It goes on to prohibit distributing certain materials, conducting demonstrations with “sexual stimulation” devices, or distributing contraception.
If a student receives such instruction, a parent or guardian can sue for damages, and a court may impose a civil fine of up to $5,000.
Ohio isn’t the first state to worry about students being corrupted by learning about “gateway sexual activity.” Almost exactly one year ago, Tennessee Republicans pushed to strengthen their state’s abstinence-only law by defining kissing and hand-holding as gateway activities that could lead teens to engage in sexual intercourse. Of course, whether or not U.S. teenagers are taught abstinence in their health classes, most of them still become sexually active. By their 19th birthday, seven in ten American teens will have had sex.MORE
BACKGROUND: Beginning in the 1970s, concerns over AIDS and teen pregnancy galvanized widespread public support for sex education in schools. Most states today have a policy requiring HIV education, usually in conjunction with broader sex education. Meanwhile, as debate over the relative merits of abstinence-only-until-marriage versus more comprehensive approaches has intensified, states have enacted a number of specific content requirements. This brief summarizes state-level sex and HIV education policies, as well as specific content requirements, based on a review of state laws, regulations and other legally binding policies.
HIGHLIGHTS:
General Requirements: Sex Education and HIV Education
? 22 states and the District of Columbia mandate sex education.
? 20 states and the District of Columbia mandate both sex education and HIV education.
? 2 states only mandate sex education.
? 33 states and the District of Columbia mandate HIV education; of these states, 13 mandate only HIV education.
? 27 states and the District of Columbia mandate that, when provided, sex and HIV education programs meet certain general requirements.
? 12 states require that the instruction be medically accurate.
? 26 states and the District of Columbia require that the information be appropriate for the students’ age.
? 8 states require that the program must provide instruction that is appropriate for a student’s cultural background and not be biased against any race, sex or ethnicity.
? 2 states prohibit the program from promoting religion.
? 37 states and the District of Columbia require school districts to involve parents in sex education, HIV education or both.
? 22 states and the District of Columbia require that parents be notified that sex education or HIV education will be provided.
? 3 states require parental consent for students to participate in sex education or HIV education.
? 35 states and the District of Columbia allow parents to remove their children from instruction.
CONTINUED
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STATE POLICIES IN BRIEF
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