The Criminalization of Sex by LawCrossing

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According to Southworth's interpretation of the law, providing instruction on how to use contraception will make a sex education teacher criminally liable for the sexual activities of the students

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									Legal Daily News Feature


The Criminalization of Sex

By Joshua Nave


My parents taught me that there are three things you should never talk about in polite company: Politics, religion and sex. Fortunately
for my education, they excluded themselves from the category of polite company which led to some rollicking dinner table conversations
when I was growing up.


                              04/14/10                                   state interfere with a parent’s right to teach their children
                                                                         about sex or, for that matter other issues involving morality?
                             Setting aside a lifetime’s worth            Did the father cross the line or is this merely pushing the
                             of lawyer jokes, I like to think            outer boundaries of parental rights?
                             that the readers of this web page
are polite company, so I must beg your indulgence. Politics,             What about when sex education in school gets explicit,
religion and sex are too intertwined with the law to ignore              particularly when it shifts from the biological processes and
completely. Today I turn my attention to sex and reflect on a            into expository instruction? That’s an issue being played out
pair of stories that have popped up this week involving sex,             today in Juneau County, Wisconsin. Wisconsin recently passed
minors, and the law.                                                     a law that requires sex education classes to include, among
                                                                         other things, instruction on how to use contraception and how
These stories show two ends of a spectrum. The first story               to prevent STD’s. The DA of Juneau County, Scott Southworth,
involves a father in Texas who used online pornography as                sent a letter to the five school districts in the county saying
an aid in having ‘’the talk’’ with his minor daughters and               that any teacher that complied with the new law could face
the second involves an over-zealous DA in Wisconsin who is               criminal prosecution. According to Southworth’s interpretation
threatening teachers with criminal prosecution if they comply            of the law, providing instruction on how to use contraception
with a state law mandating sex education classes.                        will make a sex education teacher criminally liable for the
                                                                         sexual activities of the students, and even if the students
The Texas story involves a divorced father with custody of               practice abstention, the teachers might be prosecuted for
his two daughters, ages 8 and 9. A complaint sitting on the              delinquency of a minor. Parents in Juneau County have the
desk of local DA James Farren, filed by the mother after the             ability to ‘’opt-out’’, removing their children from any school
girls told a therapist about the incident, alleges that the              provided sex education classes. This presents us with multiple
father had the girls watch another woman perform live on a               issues to discuss. Should the legislature be micromanaging
webcam while he gave her instructions. The father says he                the classroom in any issue, but particularly one as sensitive
was using the woman’s performance as a visual aid to help                as sex? And should the law hold a teacher responsible for
teach the girls about sex. This may seem like incredibly poor            the (illegal) sexual activities of their students if the teacher
judgment but according to DA Farren, it may not be criminal.             provides instruction on how to do it safely?
Texas has a statute on the books that makes it a crime to
show pornography to a minor, but it carves out an explicit               A proper respect for decorum makes it difficult to openly
exemption if the minor is accompanied by a consenting                    discuss issues like this, but I promise you dear readers, I am
parent. This raises the question - to what extent should the             not polite society. I welcome your comments below.




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