When it comes to education about sexual and reproductive health, we often think of traditional classrooms and school-based programs. However, there's a crucial need for comprehensive sex education in alternative settings, such as juvenile hall, county jail, and probation programs. This is where our Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino’s Community Education and Outreach team steps in, bringing essential knowledge to youth and young adults who might otherwise miss out on vital information.
Reaching Beyond Classroom Walls
While comprehensive sex education is mandated in public middle and high schools, not all young individuals have access to this important learning. Many participants in correctional settings have reported never having received structured education on crucial topics like birth control, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), healthy relationships, and even human trafficking. Recognizing this gap, our skilled team has extended its expertise to alternative settings, tailoring the delivery and tone of presentations to suit the unique needs and experiences of these groups.
Empowering through Education
One remarkable outcome of our work in alternative settings is the creation of the Male Involvement program. This workshop is designed for male-identified participants to explore how traditional concepts of masculinity impact men's reproductive health, the well-being of their partners, and their overall lives. In a world where discussions about toxic masculinity and redefining manhood are scarce, this program offers a safe space for reflection and learning.
Breaking Down Toxic Masculinity
Toxic masculinity perpetuates harmful attitudes and behaviors, from rejecting empathy and seeking dominance to normalizing violence. Through the Male Involvement program, these toxic beliefs are dismantled, allowing participants to understand the cultural, familial, and environmental factors that shape their understanding of "manhood." The damaging phrases like "man up" and "act like a man" are analyzed for their negative effects, fostering discussions about how these phrases contribute to toxic masculinity.
By challenging these harmful stereotypes, the Male Involvement program encourages open conversations around sexual and reproductive health. Beyond self-care, the program emphasizes the importance of being supportive partners. Research indicates that when men are empowered to engage in family planning, women are more likely to use contraception consistently. Additionally, as men gain a deeper understanding of women's needs, ideas about gender equality improve.
Real Impact and Personal Growth
The impact of the Male Involvement program is clear through the words of its participants:
"My environment (jail, gangs) didn't let me talk about my emotions to anybody, because I would be seen as weak, but I know it will help me if I have someone to talk to, I just didn't have the opportunity."
"I choose not to talk about my emotions with anybody, that's just the way I was raised, my father didn't talk to me at all, but if I ever have a son I will correct their direction but that's their choice too."
Champions of Change
In the correctional system, there are remarkable advocates who understand the significance of providing education that equips youth and young adults with the tools to embrace bodily autonomy, make informed decisions, foster healthy relationships, prevent or plan pregnancies, and protect themselves from STIs. These advocates recognize that by empowering individuals with knowledge, we're planting the seeds of positive change that can ripple through communities and generations.
The Male Involvement program is a shining example of how sex education can reshape perspectives, break down harmful stereotypes, and foster healthier relationships. By addressing toxic masculinity and empowering young men to be informed and supportive partners, we're not only shaping individual lives but also creating a brighter, more equitable future for all.
For additional information about the Male Involvement program or any other programs offered by our expert Community Education and Outreach team, please email [email protected].