O-H-I-No! – Limits to Sex Ed in Ohio’s Schools

I’ve mentioned here before that I live in Ohio, and have a decent amount of pride for my chosen state (and especially the city that I live in). Living in Ohio can be a constant test, whether it’s experiencing a whole season in the matter of days or dealing with living in a state that is not a fan of comprehensive sexuality education.

Each semester, I have a minimum of three students who tell me that they wish they had received adequate sexuality education before now (these are college students, typically juniors and seniors). I have students who tell me that they believe they wouldn’t have been pregnant or have dealt with a sexually transmitted infection, etc. While on one hand I’m glad that my students seem to enjoy and learn in my classroom, I do wish that medically accurate and age appropriate sexuality education was more readily available.

Unfortunately, I am doubting that my wish will come true any time soon in Ohio. A discussion in the House involves an amendment that would limit sex ed in health classes. They would be banned from giving any information on what they classify “gateway sexual activity.” If you’re a little confused by what exactly “gateway sexual activity” is, you’re not alone. A friend of mine thought it was alcohol, while I was just pretty sure whatever this gateway stuff is, it’s probably not anything good for my wish.


It turns out that ”‘gateway sexual activity’ means activities described as ‘sexual contact.’” The fine print of proposed House Bill 59 says that students should not learn about any contraception options other than abstinence and anything that encourages students to “experiment with sexual activity.”"Gateway sexual activity” is a pretty broad term, and as Tara Culp-Ressler points out, in another state there was even a push to include kissing and hand-holding as gateways to having sex.

Now, I have no issue with teaching abstinence. On the contrary, I think it should be taught, but it shouldn’t be the only option. In school, I was taught that abstinence is the best option and that there are high failure rates to other methods (I learned that a minimum of 1 in 3 condoms fail – which is absolutely NOT true). If a teacher decides to go rogue, and even give students a handout describing contraception options (just as an example), they can be subject to civil fines up to $5,000.

If you disagree with this amendment, please let your voice be heard. Contact your representatives and let them know where you stand. Let others know about what’s going on – talk about it, tweet about it, write letters to your newspapers.

Find us on Twitter @mysexprofessor, and find the Cleveland lovin’ author of this post @ItsHollyAgain

About Holly Moyseenko

Holly Moyseenko is a sex educator living in Ohio. She is an advocate of positive and healthy sexuality. Holly currently works for a non-profit health organization as a health educator, and also teaches workshops that focus on many topics within the realm of healthy sexuality. In her spare time, she also is an advocate for survivors of sexual assault, gardens, reads anything within reach, drinks copious amounts of tea, and naps with her two dogs.