In another Republican-led attempt to repress education, Ohio approved a budget bill on Tuesday that will ban sexual education that “condones gateway sexual activity,” and allow parents to sue teachers who “promote” gateway sexual activity, defined as “any touching of an erogenous zone of another.” Naturally, to the convoluted conservative mind, education becomes “advocation,” as if sex ed teachers go about showering students with condoms and birth control and encouraging them to let loose.
Essentially, the measure would prevent students from being taught straightforward and accurate sex education, and prohibit teachers from distributing certain educational materials as well as prevent access to contraception. Additionally, the Ohio legislation would defund Planned Parenthood and redirect those funds to “pregnancy crisis centers:” anti-choice fronts famous for providing false information to women in order to prevent them from exercising their right to choose.
Any time the topics of sex education or Planned Parenthood come up, conservatives come out of the woodwork screaming about abstinence and baby killing. Rather than teaching children medically accurate, uncontrived information and preventative measures, they persist with the backward notion that ignorance and avoidance of the issue are the key to success. Then, when their plan goes sour, they will tell women that they do not have the right to choose, and complain about the distribution of welfare to single mothers, because not only is education wrong, the effects of a lack of education are also wrong.
The Ohio bill isn’t just a war on women’s rights, but a war on young adults, who deserve access to information and health care. According to the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice, “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.”
Conservative repression aside for a moment, the definition of “gateway sexual activity” as “touching of an erogenous zone” seems problematic considering the definition of an erogenous zone is “an area of the human body that has heightened sensitivity, the stimulation of which may result in the production of sexual fantasies or sexual arousal.” However, people have these zones all over their bodies, and the sensitivity of specific areas varies from person to person. Not to mention, what is stimulating to one person may be entirely repulsive to another. Some such areas include eyelids, eyebrows, shoulders, hands, arms, and hair.
So, essentially, these conservatives are saying that hand holding and butterfly kisses are a straight shot to dirty, hot sex.
Adding to the ridiculousness of this viewpoint is the fact that regardless of whether or not conservatives are successful in stifling sex education and teaching only abstinence, most teenagers will become sexually active anyway. In fact, by their 19th birthday, seven out of ten (male and female) teens will have had sexual intercourse. This means that the likelihood of teens exercising proper precautions when they do inevitably have sex goes down because they will be uninformed and will have been denied access to contraceptives – meaning the likelihood of contracting and spreading STDs goes up, as does the risk of unplanned pregnancy.
Alisha Mims is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.