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Any person or organisation within a school who promotes “Gateway Sexual Activity” in Ohio – even in a critical sex education class – could be sued. This is according to the Ohio House Republicans in the Finance Committee, who explicitly describe sex education as “venereal disease education” and are looking to rule out sexual health education which even implies any sexual act.
According to the Republicans, the term “gateway” isn’t just to imply protecting their children’s wellbeing from explicitly dangerous activity, they’re using it to imply any sexual act including ‘touching of an erogenous zone of another…for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying either person.’ Under the new law, anyone would be banned from doing so, and students will have the right to file suit against school officials condoning “gateway sexual activity” on or off of school property.
So what does this mean for Ohio’s sexual wellness? Children won’t learn anything more than Mormon kids in the 1940s were taught; they won’t be educated about protection or prevention. There are three main things that teachers across the state would be instructed to: ‘Stress that students should abstain from sexual activity until after marriage’, ‘Teach the potential physical, psychological, emotional, and social side effects of participating in sexual activity outside of marriage’ and ‘Emphasize adoption as an option for unintended pregnancies’.
The officials argue ‘abstinence…is the only protection that is one hundred percent effective against unwanted pregnancy, STDs, and [AIDS],’ and no one is denying that. However, you know that a teacher asking hormonal teens to abstain from sex is like you asking your dog to do the washing up – it’s a nice idea, but it’s very unlikely to happen. There is no research to support the idea that sexual education has led to a rise in disease, unwanted pregnancy or promiscuity.
In fact, over 15 years ago, UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, reviewed 68 different studies from around the world in 1997, noting that ‘providing children with sex education does not promote promiscuity.’ Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice, said in a statement, ‘Today the Ohio House Finance Committee voted to send our state back to the 1950s. The Ohio House is doing everything they can to restrict access to reproductive health care and medically accurate information that help Ohioans live healthy lives.’