Assessing Culturally Responsive Sexuality Education: Implications for Program Development and Practice
Leena B. Singh
Doctor of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley
Associate Professor Julianna Deardorff, Chair
There has been widespread support for sexuality education programs that target a range of populations by being inclusive of diverse values and viewpoints. The United States is becoming increasingly heterogeneous and culturally diverse, and there remains a disproportionate burden of adverse sexual health outcomes, including high rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, among racial minority groups. However, the ways in which culture is defined and integrated into curricula is unclear, and there is a lack of systematic guidance from the field on how to develop and implement these programs. These are missed opportunities to critically address the sexual health of diverse groups of adolescents. Incorporating a more clearly defined culturally responsive approach may be one way to strengthen these programs.
This dissertation aims to understand how culturally responsive approaches to sexuality education are conceptualized and developed and how they are currently being perceived and implemented in the field. The goal of this work is to bridge research and practice and ultimately strengthen this paradigm in sexuality education.
In the first paper, “Culturally responsive sexuality education: Implications of cultural adaptation research,” I review the research pertaining to cultural adaption of programs, specifically prevention interventions. I then discuss the implications of this research for sexuality education, including determining culturally responsive strategies and content and addressing cultural diversity.
In the second paper, “Culturally responsive sexuality education: Developer perspectives,” I report on findings from 5 in-depth interviews with sexuality education program developers. Three aspects of culturally responsive sexuality education development emerged through interviews: (1) treatment of culture, (2) underlying theoretical frameworks and program models, and (3) development of culturally responsive content. Issues, challenges and barriers related to the conceptualization and development of these programs are described.
In the third paper, “Culturally responsive sexuality education: Practitioner perspectives,” I report on findings from 21 in-depth interviews with sexuality education program practitioners. Four aspects of culturally responsive sexuality education implementation emerged through interviews: (1) lack of cultural complexity in programs, (2) challenges with mixed group settings, (3) shifting cultural identities and (4) importance of the culturally responsive paradigm. Issues, barriers and challenges related to the implementation of these programs are described.
As a whole, this dissertation illustrates the need for greater and more comprehensive consideration of the concept of cultural responsiveness and its application to adolescent sexuality education.