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Put a stop to the Put Teens at Risk bill

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On March 21, the House Education Subcommittee passed a family life curriculum bill (HB3621) that increases the focus of sex education in Tennessee schools on abstinence.

House lawmakers advanced the “Put Teens at Risk” bill with no evidence that it will actually reduce teen pregnancy or the spread of sexually transmitted infections or diseases among youth in Tennessee. In fact actual research shows “that increasing emphasis on abstinence education is positively correlated with teenage pregnancy and birth rates.” A study of 13 abstinence-only education programs demonstrated no “enduring effect” on changing teen sexual behavior.

House Sponsor Jim Gotto (R-Hermitage) made a point of noting that Tennessee ranks 7th highest in the nation for teen pregnancy rates and between 8th and 11th for the the spread of sexually transmitted infections and diseases among youth.

Are lawmakers risking the lives of Tennessee’s youth instead of examining current research against their personal beliefs about abstinence-based education? Tennessee’s youth would be better served with a comprehensive sex and STD education program that addresses risk-aversion behaviors and planning for the future.

The State Department of Education has taken a neutral position on HB3621. If the agency tasked with setting education policy for the State of Tennessee can’t support this bill, it increases doubts about whether the bill will actually improve sex education in Tennessee or improve public health outcomes.

Send a message to the full House Education Committee opposing this legislation.



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