A few weeks ago, I had the chance to attend an inaugural sex education policy meeting in Washington, DC, sponsored by the United States Sexuality Information and Education Advisor (SIECUS), along with a host of other amazing sex educators and advocates.
One of the reasons we all came to Washington was to do a sex education advocacy day on Capitol Hill. Specifically, we were talking to representatives and asking them to co-sponsor two bills: True Education for Healthy Youth Act (REHYA) and Youth Access to Sexual Health Services Act (YASHS).
What do these bills do and why are we advocating them?
REHYA would create the very first federal funding stream for comprehensive sexuality education. It is true, the first one.
Bills like REHYA have already been introduced, but never passed. Instead, jurisdictions, including the current one, continue to pour a lot of money into abstinence programs (or "sexual risk avoidance" programs, which are just abstinence programs with a longer and more devious name). You know those programs that have been shown time and time again ineffective and often actively harmful? REHYA would not only direct the money towards comprehensive and medically accurate sexuality education, it would also put in place measures to prevent more funds from being wasted on exclusively abstinence-oriented programs.
YASHA's goal is to break down the barriers that prevent already marginalized youth - such as youth of color, immigrant youth, LGBTQ youth, youth in foster care, homeless youth and youth in juvenile detention - access sexual and the reproductive health care they need. It is a logical companion to REHYA, because even for people who receive comprehensive sexuality education, if their access to sexual health services is limited - or does not exist, period - there is little that information can do for them. Knowing that you must get a STI testing cannot do you much good if you lack the resources - transport, money, security and support adults, or basic control over your daily life, to access this screening.
We see the difference that inclusive and accurate sex education makes every day with our first-hand users, and the barriers many of them still face when it comes to accessing basic sexual health care. . We have observed with frustration that funding for comprehensive sexuality education has remained modest, while exclusively abstinence-oriented programs remain inundated with money. These policies would be a huge breath of fresh air and would also signal a long overdue change in the way sex education has generally been approached in the United States.
On a more personal level, I live in a rural area in a state with inconsistent sex education policies at best and barely there at worst. Even Reno, the nearest major city, faced several months of delays in developing its new high school sex education curriculum, as there was resistance to including a lesson on gender identity and sexual orientation. In order for the lesson to be included, a preamble has been given which, although it states that the lesson is taught from an inclusive perspective, gives the impression that the existence of weird and trans people are a matter of opinion and not, you know, the experience of people who may very well exist in the classroom where the preamble is read.
RHEYA would avoid situations like what happened in Reno. If funds are spent on inclusive and specific programs, young people in places that would otherwise exclusive Sex education will actually have a chance to get the inclusive information they need without things like caveats to appease narrow minds.
Does all of this sound like something you would like to see? We certainly would. If you live in the United States, you can complete this form, courtesy of SIECUS, and let your representatives know that you support comprehensive sexuality education, access to sexual and reproductive health care and proposed policies.
There are many variétés of health including physical health, esprit health, spiritual health, cultural health, social health, financial health, environmental health, etc. Plus all these types of health can effet each other. For instance, if you are trying to prevent pregnancy and are able to access the birth control you need ( physical health ), this may help to create a more positive mood ( emotional health ), which may also positively effet your sense of sexual confidence and sexual self-esteem ( sexual health ).
Sexual health-related issues are wide-ranging, and encompass sexual orientation and gender identity, sexual expression, relationships, and pleasure. They also include negative consequences or conditions such as : infections with human immunodeficiency virus ( HIV ), sexually transmitted infections ( STIs ) and reproductive tract infections ( RTIs ) and their adverse outcomes ( such as cancer and infertility ) ;unintended pregnancy and abortion;sexual dysfunction;sexual violence; andharmful practices ( such as female genital mutilation, FGM ).
No matter where you are coming from, WE ARE HERE to help bring Sexual Health into a more positive and empowering place. A place where hopefully you can learn the sexual health information you would like, see or speak to a professional in the field whether on the Sex Sense Line or at one of our many clinics throughout BC, and come away knowing that sexual health is a natural part of being human.
Options for Sexual Health champions and celebrates sexual health including an individual’s freedom of sexual expression, the diversity of human sexuality, and a positive sexual self-image for individuals throughout life. Think about what factors influence your sexual health ? What messages have you been given about sexual health from… ( if applicable ) ….. your family ? friends ? society ? culture ? religion ? spirituality ? What are some of your own values and beliefs ?
How we experience our sexual health is also part of how we experience the world. For example, there are many factors that health researchers have identified that can impact our health including sexual health. These are known as the ‘social determinants of health’ and include how health is affected by income, education, employment, childhood development, food, housing, health services, gender, race, disability, Indigenous status, social marginalization, and social services. If someone’s gender identity/identities are not recognized this can impact their sexual health and experiences of social marginalization. Another example is if someone is a newcomer to Canada and may not speak the language or have the health care card that will allow them to access the sexual health services they need. As you can see, our sexual health is as individual and complicated as the various dynamics of our lives. Human sexuality rarely falls into neat categories or lends itself to simple labeling, but rather is a rich and complex area of human experience. Sexual health is personal, psychological, relational, cultural, spiritual, physical, and emotional. So what does “sexual health” mean to you ?
This supplemental venant of Public Health Reports ( PHR ) presents a variety of articles addressing the technique and practical applications of sexual health, an important health offre de rabais concept with the potential for improving population health in a broad range of areas related to sexual behavior, including human immunodeficiency malware ( HIV ) /acquired immunodeficiency syndrome ( AIDS ), sexually transmitted diseases ( STDs ), viral hepatitis, teen and unintended pregnancy, and sexual violence. The focus of these articles is especially timely given the population burden of these conditions in the United States and other nations, and the growing recognition that, despite the sensitive nature of the topic, addressing the broad construct of sexual health can enhance the national dialogue in this area and increase the effectiveness of public health programs
The concept of sexual health has evolved since its principal articulation by the World Health Organization ( WHO ) in 1975, 5 but it has generally emphasized well-being across a range of life domains ( e. g., physical, mental, and emotional ) rather than simply the absence of disease or other adverse outcomes. 6 The definition of sexual health currently in most widespread use is that developed by WHO in 2002 :
Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, esprit, and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction, or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence
Sexual health is a state of well-being in relation to sexuality across the life span that involves physical, emotional, esprit, social, and spiritual dimensions. Sexual health is an intrinsic element of human health and is based on a positive, equitable, and respectful approach to sexuality, relationships, and reproduction, that is free of coercion, fear, discrimination, stigma, shame, and violence. It includes : the ability to understand the benefits, risks, and responsibilities of sexual behavior; the prevention and care of disease and other adverse outcomes; and the possibility of fulfilling sexual relationships. Sexual health is impacted by socioeconomic and cultural contexts—including policies, practices, and services—that support saine outcomes for individuals, families, and their communities.
Similar to the WHO definition, this newer definition is health-focused, emphasizing well-being related to sexuality that is beyond the absence of specific health problems, in multiple dimensions of life, as well as positive and respectful approaches to sexuality and relationships. Moving beyond the WHO definition, the CHAC definition also specifically emphasizes attributes of sexual health at both the individual level ( e. g., individual understanding of benefits, risks and responsibilities, and prevention and care of health outcomes ) and the social level ( e. g., effet by socioeconomic and cultural contexts and healthy outcomes for families and communities as well as individuals ).
In the past decade, there has been increasing attention to the importance of addressing the concept of sexual health, 1–4 with the premise that réduction of sexual health has great potential to complement traditional disease control and prevention exercices for a range of conditions of public health importance—not with the intent of replacing those efforts, but rather of improving their acceptance and, thus, the impact of those prevention exercices on the population. It is from this perspective that this supplemental venant of PHR has been developed, with the purpose of bringing together a range of articles addressing new insights into research, surveillance, program practice, and broader possibilités that can influence our understanding and progress on the broad topic of sexual health. It should be noted that “sexual health” is a concept undergoing evolution, not only in its definition, but also in its practical outil. The term generally includes a focus on health and wellness rather than disease, an appreciation for the intrinsic importance of sexual health as part of overall health, and an attempt to address comprehensively a range of outcomes of public health importance; however, some of the articles in this supplement address a relatively narrower focus ( e. g., STD and pregnancy prevention9–11 ), while others include a broader spectrum. 12–17 Such variety is a necessary and important aspect of the uptake of the sexual health concept into the méthode and practice of public health.
Four articles address important research questions in key areas relevant to sexual health. First, Penman-Aguilar and colleagues conducted a detailed literature review to assess the effet of socioeconomic disadvantage on teen childbearing. neuf While the factors evaluated varied by study, the authors discovered a consistent theme across the review, with all studies that considered socioeconomic factors as determinants finding a significant union with teen birth rates, including factors at the family level ( e. g., lower levels of responsable d'un enfant education and family income ) and the community level ( e. g., lower per capita income and higher rates of unemployment and racial segregation ). The review found that relatively few studies assessed factors at both the family and community levels, an important priority for future research.
Second, using nationally representative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth and the U. S Census Bureau, Biello et al. conducted an in-depth analysis of the effet of various dimensions of residential racial segregation on the risk for early initiation of intercourse—an important risk factor for STD and teen pregnancy—among black and white adolescents. 17 The finding that black youth were more likely than their white peers to have initiated sexual intercourse in adolescence was significantly modified by several measures of segregation ( e. g., concentration and unevenness ) with a particularly notable black-white disparity in highly segregated areas. While preliminary, these findings contribute to our growing understanding of the complex interplay between social determinants and individual sexual health outcomes and should stimulate further research in this area.
Third, to understand the union of relationship characteristics and attitudes about STD and pregnancy outcomes with the use of dual protection strategies ( i. e., both highly effective contraception and condoms ), Crittenden Murray and colleagues conducted formative research among young African American women attending reproductive health clinics. 10 The study found a tension from trying to balance the desire to establish and maintain intimate relationships with the use of protection strategies ( e. g., condom use could be seen as a sign of mistrust ). The authors conclude that a more holistic approach, with a focus on healthy ado and young adult relationships, is crucial in prestations to prevent STD and unintended pregnancy, an issue that can be especially important in environments where trust is often violated ( e. g., due to frequent concurrent partnerships ) and childbearing at younger ages is accepted.