NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An outside vendor that promotes sexual activity in "family life education" curricula taught in schools could be sued by a parent under legislation that advanced Wednesday in the House.
The measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Jim Gotto of Hermitage passed the House Education Committee on a voice vote. The Senate approved the companion bill 29-1 earlier this month.
The measure seeks to ban the teaching of any type of sexual activity in schools.
Gotto said he proposed the legislation after complaints that some outside vendors were telling students that any kind of sexual activity is permissible, as long as it's not sexual intercourse.
Gotto said safe sex can be taught in schools' "family life education" curricula, but it must be abstinence-centered.
The curriculum has to emphasize that abstinence is withholding from "any kind of sexual contact," according to the legislation.
If not, Gotto said a parent has the right to sue the vendor.
"All this bill does is it defines what abstinence means," Gotto said. "And it gives the parent a cause of action if it's violated."
Several amendments were defeated that tried to clarify the legislation. House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh said the bill doesn't specify "sexual activity," which means something as common as "holding hands in a romantic behavior" could be misconstrued.
"We're going down a road we don't have to go down," said the Ripley Democrat. "And that opens up more problems."