Expanding the Flexibility of Normative Patterns In Youth Sexuality and Prevention Programs

Alan Berkman, MD, Jonathan Garcia, BA, Miguel Muñoz-Laboy, DrPH, Vera Paiva, PhD, and Richard Parker, PhD
American Journal of Public Health | July 2005, Vol 95, No. 7


This article reviews normative ways of presenting sexual health in intervention programs for the sex education and health care of young people in Latin America. These programs usually consider adolescence and youth as naturalizing categories and can be described as strongly preventionist. Based on our activities in Brazil, ongoing research and training of health professionals and activists, and inspiration from recent debates about youth sexuality and reproductive health in Latin America, we present and analyze face to face scenes from the field. Co-constructions of sexual citizenship and sexual subjects arise from local meanings and agendas that need to be shared and negotiated. We conclude: that sexual health and adolescence should be strongly contextualized categories; that adolescent identities should be understood as “ipse identities” (Ricoeur, 1991), or as reflexive identities constructed continuously in relationship with otherness; and that there is a promising relationship between sexuality and human rights.
Key words: youth; adolescence; sex education; sexual health; identity; human rights

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