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133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Jessica Fields, PhD, Sociology Department, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132, 415-405-0589, email@example.com
Background: Abstinence-only-until marriage sexuality education policies and funding have made it difficult for school-based and other sexuality educators to provide young people with adequate sexuality and HIV education. Many youth, often at the encouragement of adults, look to community-based peer education programs for information and support. While many believe that these programs may be an effective response to restrictive policies and funding, researchers and policy makers know little about the youth educators' training and experience. Methods: Data are from open-ended, in-depth focus groups with a racially and sexually diverse group of youth sexuality educators (n=35). Respondents are 14 to 25 years old and participants in community-based sexuality education programs for and by youth in the California Bay Area. Data analysis is dialectical and grounded, involving analytical notes-on-notes and NVivo coding. Results: Though peer sexuality education may challenge the usual constraints of abstinence-only models, youth educators not specifically addressing same-sex attracted and queer (SSA-Q) youth describe instruction that offers little information or misinformation about nonnormative desires, behaviors, and identities. Discussions of HIV/AIDS are at times the only context in which youth educators acknowledge that they should discuss SSA-Q sexuality. Educators' discussions of HIV transmission and prevention frequently echo the lessons of abstinence-only education-the only safe sex is no sex. Conclusions: Youth sexuality educators need significant training about HIV transmission, discrimination, and SSA-Q. One challenge for policy makers will be to institutionalize training for youth educators and the offering of peer sexuality education without also subjecting it to restrictive abstinence-only policies.
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.
The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA