Abstinence-Only Curriculum Makes Schools Scared to Implement Rape Prevention Law in Tennessee
In response to growing concerns about child sexual abuse, Tennessee lawmakers enacted a law encouraging schools to provide prevention education to teachers and students.
But the 2014 measure, known "Erin's Law," has run into an unanticipated obstacle — one also created by state lawmakers.
The so-called "Gateway law," approved by the legislature in 2012, allows for teachers and school districts to be penalized for providing anything but abstinence-based sex education. It prohibits any discussion of "gateway" behaviors that could lead to premarital sex.
As a result, many Tennessee public schools aren't talking to kids about sex abuse prevention at all — for fear that broaching the subject will spur questions from kids about healthy sexuality, something that could lead to civil fines or lawsuits by parents under the 2010 law.