Burch: No hand-holding

Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 10:05pm
By Michael R. Burch

The lunacy of Tennessee legislators seems to know no bounds.

After concluding that the “Don’t Say Gay” bill wasn’t going to fly, they immediately decided to attempt to legislate morality. Like Puritans, they now want to silence any and all talk about sex.

SB 3310/HB 3621 requires sex education in Tennessee schools to “exclusively and emphatically” focus on abstinence. The bill could label normal teen behavior — holding hands, flirting, hugging, etc. — as “gateway sexual activity,” and threaten schools with stiff penalties if they don’t do everything in their power to discourage it. But as we all know, having been teenagers ourselves, nothing that we do is going to keep teenagers from holding hands and flirting. Like absence, total abstinence only makes the heart grow fonder.

According to the Tennessee chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, “If this bill is signed into law, schools will only be able to tell students to remain abstinent. [But] preventing our teachers from providing information about sexual activity will not stop young people from seeking out the answers on their own. It’s more likely the information they cobble together will be uniformed, ill-advised, or downright wrong.”

The ACLU also pointed out that providing teens with information about sex and its consequences helps them delay having sex and protects their health. Nationwide, teenagers who participated in sex-ed programs that discuss the importance of delaying sex and which provide information about contraceptives were significantly less likely to report teen pregnancies than those who received no sex education or attended abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, according to a Journal of Adolescent Health study (Kohler).

Abstinence-only programs endanger teenagers’ health because teens who participate in such programs are less likely to use contraception or get tested for STDs, according to another Journal of Adolescent Health study (Bruckner and Bearman).

Major medical groups support comprehensive sex education, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Adolescent Medicine.

And our own experience should inform us, as well. Nothing our parents said or did was going to keep us from holding hands and flirting. Boys are going to be boys, and girls are going to be girls, once they reach puberty. If they want to know the facts of life — and nearly everyone does, at some point — they can get all the pointers in the world from TV shows, movies and magazines that glamorize sex. So no one should be fooled into believing that not talking about sex is going to do any good whatsoever. What does make sense is to be sure that children know the dangers of having sex, and the advantages of waiting to have sex and of having protected sex when the time finally arrives.

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.

69 Comments on this post:

By: Loner on 3/30/12 at 5:14

Great letter, Mike Burch.

Whenever there is news coming from the TN Statehouse....they should preface the announcement by playing the opening chords of "Deliverance"....Bah, Dah, Derr, Derr...Derr.....and then make the ludicrous announcement.

I expect that the Tea-Bag addled TN Statehouse will pass a resolution calling for girls to use aspirins for birth control....by holding the pills between their legs, of course.

We restrict everything kids do these days, from cradle to adulthood...then we expect them, as adults, to act like free citizens in a constitutional democracy....we do not teach the youth about their rights and their duties....we teach them submissive compliance with church and state....they end up as adults who behave like sheep, not patriots or free thinkers.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 5:18

Not knowing how babies were made, Billy Bob told Betty Sue that it was OK to lay naked with him.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 5:29

I work at a locale Hotel some thirty years; I learn that Hotel Security would increase every time a church youth organized was booked. It seems that the boys and girls would congregate in the stair wells for a little private get together. Life and Nature always finds away,

The only other time that there was an increase in security would be for a Presidential visit.

By: dargent7 on 3/30/12 at 5:32

What's the point here in the south?
I've never witnessed dumber laws enacted.
Guns in bars? Chickens in the front yards? Guns in parks? Guns in employee parking lots? Slaughter houses for horses?
"Don't Say Gay" bill? Now, "Don't talk about sex"?
I celebrate my 5th year here on Monday, April 2nd.
I should of arrived on the 1st, April Fool's Day.
As it turned out, much more prophetic and appropriate.

By: Ummm... on 3/30/12 at 5:40

d7- You CELEBRATE your 5th year here???

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 5:49

In a few years d7 you can move back to Detroit, because the jobs will be moving north because the jobs are there and the climate will be better than the south due to weather change.

By: dargent7 on 3/30/12 at 6:10

I guess I should of said, "Wake".

By: Loner on 3/30/12 at 6:12

Don't forget the "public art"...like the quilting BS....a little quilting helps distract tourists from looking at that enormous pile of scrap metal that dominates the Nashville skyline....money well spent.

Kids in TN are so ignorant, they think "abstain" has something to do with abdominal staining?

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 6:26

Now don’t you go talking about Mount Rustmore, Loner.

By: Loner on 3/30/12 at 6:28

Apparently, Jesus of Nazareth was a well-armed, virgin, heterosexual stud....at least that's the born-again narrative concerning the Divine One's politics, libido and sexual orientation...the fact that he never went out on a date with a woman, but lived with 12 fawning guys who literally worshiped him, has nothing to do with his sexual preferences, or lack of....that's their story and they're sticking with it.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 6:42

The GOP Jesus


By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 6:57

Next year’s agenda for Tennessee legislatures; build more prisons for all of the people who don’t have sex in our Christian way. Next put them to working in the cotton fields on private plantations.

By: Siobhanne on 3/30/12 at 7:11

While I am not an advocate of encouraging teenagers to be sexually active, abstinence only programs often have the opposite effect. Telling a hormonal but immature (and perhaps slightly rebellious) teenager that something is forbidden makes it all the more desirable. It does not help much that media has made sex the focus of everything when in reality it isn't. Teenagers seldom think of the long term ramifications of their actions like how it will affect them 20yrs down the road. For many years, I was a member of a denomination that strongly encouraged abstinence only. It was presented almost like a golden carrot dangled above their heads but just out of reach.They made this HUGE show of having ceremonies and wearing "abstinence" rings etc. It did not work. It resulted in some disasterous teenage marriages. Kids would get married, mostly to legitimize having sex only to discover than neither had the skills or maturity required to sustain a permanent relationship.. especially after the stress of having a baby which generally followed shortly after. The divorce rate for this denomination is higher than average. Not much of an improvement. It is far better to have a program based upon the reality that not all teenagers will remain abstinent. Teaching them healthy and normal ways to express affection (holding hands and hugging don't get you pregnant), how to prevent pregnancy, what life is like with an incurable STD or the reality of being a parent is a much more realistic approach.

By: Moonglow1 on 3/30/12 at 7:18

Moonglow1: The ALEC-backed puppets, the TN legislature, the party of limited government (get government out of our lives) continues to legislate every aspect of our and now our children's lives. These legislators are the New Fascists. The Commies. The anti-freedom group.

Kids beware. The morality police dispatched by the governor himself will send you straight to jail for holding hands. No hand holding in TN. No affection of any kind because the TN legislators will come after you for breaking the law.

And who are these legislators legislating morality, ursurping the parental role. They are the wife beaters (as per the most recent guy-Hawks who beat his wife then denied he beat her too badly), then we have the one that championed the guns n bars law who drinks and drives speeding down 21st Ave at 3 am, and on and on. Perhaps. The reason why these legislators believe in creationism is perhaps they are not part of the homo sapien species, but a pre-cro magnum species who is not capable of evolving.

Seriously people, think before you cast that vote!! If you can vote. If the voting police don't turn you away.

By: yogiman on 3/30/12 at 8:05

It's just one more step into the communist regime takeover, Moonglow1. The only difference is, this is at a local level being directed on what to do from the national level.

Otherwise, don't these adult legislators remember what they were like when they were children? Or is it because they do remember what they were like in their youthful days.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 8:45

GOP Communist Regime Takeover.

By: pswindle on 3/30/12 at 9:13

TN Legislative is a dummy anyway that you look at it. You tell someone that you are from TN and the laughing starts.

By: slacker on 3/30/12 at 9:16

Kama Sutra 101

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 9:23

My Name is Earl.

By: Mike Burch on 3/30/12 at 9:26


We must be living in the End Times because it seems everyone agrees about something!

By: dargent7 on 3/30/12 at 9:28

"Abstinence Only" is of the same wave length as, "Just Say No to Drugs" (Nancy Reagan), "We're here to free the Iraqi People" (G HW Bush and sonny boy, GW Bush).
Republicans, Conservative types in particular, are a dying breed. Hopefully, when Obama wins a 2nd term, they come to terms with that fact.
I wouldn't hold my breath. Half still think the Earth's flat and women get pregnant from toilet seats and masterbation causes blindness.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 9:33

Mike that is an insult to say that yogi is on any page with normal people. If he ever agrees with anyone it is because he did not understand the subject.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 9:36

BTW Ben Dover is bad mouthing you on the other link.

By: yogiman on 3/30/12 at 10:34

I'm sure glad I'm not on the page with you, nimrod.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 11:02

You don’t have to worry about that every happening yogi, you are not on any ones page or reality for a fact.

By: BenDover on 3/30/12 at 12:30

"Bad mouthing", Nemo?

By: BenDover on 3/30/12 at 12:39

I was just using Burch as an example of how the City Paper emphasizes polarizing stories about the republicans' stands and largely ignores all the efforts republicans are making that are popular with the majority of citizens of the state.

They save emphasizing things like tenure reform, civil service reform, spending reform for choir-preaching to the ignorant college kids over at the Scene; and the City Paper is used to try divide the Social and Fiscal conservatives.

By: yogiman on 3/30/12 at 1:08

Isn't it amazing how the news media can find the 911 calls George Zimmerman made between 2004 and 2011? And just think, it only took them three weeks to do it.

But strange enough, they can't find Barack Obama's legal name or
place of birth in over three years.

So... who's hiding what?

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 1:14

Zimmerman a real issue and story, while Birthers non story and yogi NUTS.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 1:17

Zimmerman Video: Did Cops Actually Arrest Him?


By: BenDover on 3/30/12 at 1:25

The Zimmerman story is being emphasized because it fits the media template and advances an idea of social and racial injustice. It's advocacy journalism, using that term 'journalism' very very loosely; and a race-baiters' field day.

By: Loner on 3/30/12 at 1:44

While Tennessee struggles with stamping out public shows of affection among the youth; special interests steal the elections and use the election winners as their personal employees.

While lawmakers in Tennessee struggle with the concept of evolution on planet earth; the rest of the world keeps advancing.

While most of us are looking to a brighter future for the USA and the world....in Tennessee they are preparing for the End Times, the Rapture and Armageddon.

Honestly, Abe Lincoln should have let the South go its own way....the USA would probably have a manned base on Mars by now...while the CSA would still be plodding along in the horse-drawn era.

By: slacker on 3/30/12 at 1:48

Loner, the Amish beard cutting terrorists, are from Ohio, a union state.

By: Loner on 3/30/12 at 1:50

Ben, there is racial and social injustice out there; the mainstream media actually would have missed the Zimmerman-Martin story ...social media forced the MSM to cover the story....at least that's what I have read on the matter.

Bearing that in mind, how does the Zimmerman-Martin story fit the "template" you described?

This is not "advocacy journalism"...it's a case of catch-up journalism, IMO....Facebook etc. led the way...the MSM followed their lead.

By: slacker on 3/30/12 at 1:52

The Amish are gonna have to mobilize their covert ''Amish Rake Fighter'' unit and take 'em out.

By: Loner on 3/30/12 at 1:53

Slack...we can explain that...."inbreeding"...look at the mug shot of those Amish terrorists....they look like clones....inbreeding can occur anywhere, North, South, East & West....when it happens in Ohio, however, it's news-worthy.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 2:02

Is this your examples Ben?

Why should anyone care about this kid? Because he is of color? People don’t value kids period. They are property. BTW, I am a conservative that cares a great deal about kids. We follow hundreds of cases each year, many white babies and children, none of them get attention. But he does??

In any event, it appears to be a case of one sc u m bag Cuban-type (Zimmerman) offing some scummy b l a ck kid (Trayyy-Vonnnn)…in some trash neighborhood….

but now, because the dead kid’s a kneegrow, we have:

the BIG BAD FBI on this “important” case…and

the usual BLACK-RADICAL-PROTESTERS who can’t mind their own business!


By: slacker on 3/30/12 at 2:05

Loner, I understand now... northern Deliverance. Burt Reynolds, Ned Betty, John Voight, are still alive. I can visualize a sequel.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 2:07

Another exmaple of Ben tells.

Colmes said pointedly, “We should not make this a partisan issue.” As if to discount his comments, Fox played b-roll footage of African Americans protesting noisily while he talked. Their chants were audible, even as Colmes spoke.

No such distractions when guest Tucker Carlson spoke about “professional race baiters like the ones you just saw on television.” Nope. While Carlson talked, there was a graphic saying, “Police confirm George Zimmerman was ‘serving role of neighborhood watch’ when the shooting occurred.”


By: Loner on 3/30/12 at 2:10

"Northern Deliverance"...I like it, Slack...the same dumb-asses get buggered again....this time in Ohio....how about Maine? That's about as Yankee as one can get....again inbreeding is the common culprit...they just don't get a lot of strangers up there....aye ya....(Think Pepperidge Farms.)

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 2:12

About old fat men capsizing a canoe? I can see the title D’Flopping Down the River.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 2:16

I’m having an out of body experience…yes, yes, I can see it now. Someone is returning from beyond…slacker will post once more.

Village Idiot-

By: slacker on 3/30/12 at 2:18

Could be the biggest sequel since Godfather 2.. Spielburg should direct.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 2:21

Well that would certainly a novel idea there, Loner. I can see a bunch of inbred cookies causing havoc up and down a river.

You sure have a pertty mouth.

By: slacker on 3/30/12 at 2:21

Ned Beatty in extra-large tighty whities..

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 2:27


By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 2:33

Mountain Man: Now let's you just drop them pants.

By: BenDover on 3/30/12 at 2:37

Ned Beatty walks into a gay piano bar... with a machine gun and a bad attitude.

By: Captain Nemo on 3/30/12 at 2:56

Ned says, “Any body for a game of change?

By: slacker on 3/30/12 at 2:57

Says.. I'm a high school sex-education teacher, today's topic... buggery.