TN lawmakers discuss school abstinence bill - WSMV Channel 4

TN lawmakers discuss school abstinence bill

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

State legislators are talking about a bill that would keep schools from talking about sex other than to encourage abstinence.

Tennessee Republicans say the so-called "School Abstinence" bill does not change current law, rather it just clarifies exactly what abstinence education means.

But, Democrats say the bill goes too far in the wrong direction.

The measure replaced the "Don't Say Gay" bill, and instead of banning talk about homosexuality, this bill requires sex education in schools to focus only on abstinence.

Republican leaders say the bill is meant to stop teen pregnancies and encourage kids to wait to have sex.

"We think it's best for young people to not participate in sexual activity in the high school years. We know that that's best for them," said House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville.

But opponents say limiting speech is not an effective way to do that

"As I understand it, if you're holding hands walking down the hall, now a teacher gets in trouble if you allow that to happen," said State Rep. Mike Turner, D-Old Hickory. "We're about ready to put the turbans on, I think, and put the women in burkahs here if we keep going at this rate."

The bill passed a House committee this week, and Republicans say most in their party now support the measure, so they expect it to pass through to the governor's desk.

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