Healthy sexuality is the expressed capacity to understand, enjoy, and control one’s own sexual and reproductive behavior in a manner that enriches one’s self, relationships, and communities. Sexuality is an integral part of the human experience with physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual dimensions. Helping people to identify and create opportunities to explore their own sexuality in a positive and healthy manner is crucial to achieving a culture in which sexuality is regarded as a normal and healthy component of each of our lives. The SHWG believes that a central component of healthy sexuality is not only the absence of sexual violence or coercion, but the active presence of self-determination and the ability to choose when, how, whether, and with whom to make sexual and reproductive choices.
For years, Oregon has been working to promote sexual health and to prevent sexual violence. These efforts have often taken place separately, effectively dividing sexual health and sexual violence prevention, creating the illusion that the issues are unrelated, when they are in fact inseparable.
Oregon’s recent efforts echo a national shift in approach regarding sexual health promotion and sexual violence prevention. In 2006, “Recommendations to Prevent Sexual Violence in Oregon: A Plan of Action” stated the importance of developing environments where healthy relationships and healthy sexuality is the norm. The 2009 Oregon Youth Sexual Health Plan includes reducing non-consensual sexual behaviors as one of its five goals. Additionally, the Sexual Assault Task Force has offered webinars on preventing sexual violence through promoting sexual health, and the 2011 Oregon Adolescent Sexual Health Conference focused on healthy relationships, hosting the first statewide cross discipline meeting for sexual health promotion and sexual violence prevention educators. These efforts represent a closing of the gap between sexual health promotion and sexual violence prevention efforts.
In the spring of 2010, a group of stakeholders working in sexual violence prevention, sexual health promotion, education, and similar fields came together to form Oregon’s statewide Sexual Health Work Group (SHWG). The SHWG is coordinated by the Oregon Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force’s Prevention and Education Committee. Open to stakeholders from across the state, the SHWG exists to explore, identify, and promote the connections between sexual health promotion and sexual violence prevention.
Scope of Work
The SHWG believes that sexual health promotion is sexual violence prevention. Only by developing a positive frame that recognizes the interrelatedness of these two fields can we create a healthy and safe Oregon. To this end, the SHWG, in partnership with the Oregon Public Health Division, is planning to assess the current state of Oregon’s sexuality education efforts, specifically efforts to teach about healthy relationships and sexuality. Informed by assessment results and a review of key national themes, the SHWG will ultimately publish its recommendations for educational content related to healthy relationships and sexuality.
Key Themes for Healthy Relationships and Sexuality Education
After a review of curricula and key documents, the SHWG identified the following key themes present nationally and internationally in healthy relationships and sexuality education:
- Sex positivity: celebrates health sexuality, no fear-based information
- Sexuality based in emotional and biological spheres
- Promotes sexual rights of individuals
- Discusses issues of consent
- Addresses respectful interpersonal and intrapersonal communication
- Addresses power dynamics and healthy boundaries in relationships
- Illustrates examples and qualities of healthy, safe and equitable relationships
- Moves beyond victim-focused risk reduction
- Youth empowerment
- Gendered lens: explores stereotypes, gender roles, and social constructions of identity
- Acknowledges needs of marginalized populations
- Addresses oppression-both institutional and internalized
- Calls upon involvement between the individual, family, and community
SHWG Membership Represents
Nancy Greenman, Prevention Program Coordinator
Oregon Sexual Assault Task Force
Click here to email Nancy
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