sex ed

What Is ‘Gateway Sexual Activity’?

Photo: David Madison/? Corbis. All Rights Reserved.

In an attempt to limit sexual education in public schools, Republicans in the Ohio House of Representatives have added an amendment to a state budget bill that would prohibit the distribution of contraceptives, demonstrations with “sexual stimulation” devices, and teaching about “gateway sexual activity.” What, you ask, is gateway sexual activity? The Dayton Daily News explains,

[The amendment] uses wording from Ohio’s criminal code to define the activity as: “any touching of an erogenous zone of another, including without limitation the thigh, genitals, buttock, pubic region, or, if the person is a female, a breast, for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying either person.”

Or, as Salon’s Katie McDonough puts it, “anything upwards of and including second base.” The awkward phrasing has educational precedent: Tennessee passed a bill with similar wording last year. Governor Bill Haslam mangled the the definiton of gateway sexual activity during a Colbert Report appearance:

Kissing and hugging are the last stop before reaching Groin Central Station, so it’s important to ban all the things that lead to the things that lead to sex.

In fact, “gateway sexual activity” only occurs when “gateway body parts” like penises, vaginas, boobs, and butts are involved, Tennessee abstinence advocates later clarified. (If genitals are “gateway body parts,” then what is a final destination body part? Is it like the inner ear, something you cannot reach with a Q-tip, but are willing to believe exists, anyway?) Fines for violating Tennessee’s sex ed guidelines can go as high as $500, the equivalent of five passes through a prostitute’s sexual gateway for this Nashville city councilman. If Ohio’s amendment passes, educators could be fined as much as $5,000 for going too far in sex ed class.

What Is ‘Gateway Sexual Activity’?