Equimundo is excited to launch a new gender-transformative resource (with guided discussions through which individuals identify, challenge, and ultimately break free from gender stereotypes) for sex educators globally! Many Ways of Being (Muchas Formas de Ser) is an inclusive, youth-centered curriculum focused on gender equity, healthy relationships, and safer sex practices. The program’s overall goal is to reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy and promote healthy and consensual relationships among youth. Gender norms, and how they affect adolescent beliefs and behaviors related to sexual and reproductive health, are at the core of the curriculum’s theory of change.
“This intersectional program provides an opportunity for us to address sex education in a way that is engaging and relevant for youth. It’s been really fun to empower them to see themselves as leaders of the change they want in their communities and cultures.” – Dereck Myers, Many Ways of Being facilitator
This curriculum contains 16 hours of engaging content in which adolescents of all genders can discuss issues that impact their daily lives, including identity, emotions, interpersonal communication, caring and nonviolent relationships, sexual consent, porn and sexting, risk reduction strategies for STI transmission and unplanned pregnancy, and accessing clinical SRH services. We are particularly proud of this methodology because we think it aligns with our organizational values of inclusivity and an asset-based approach to youth programming.
Some key features of the curriculum include:
- Expanded representation of genders, sexualities, and relationships to avoid heteronormativity and compulsory sexuality
- Shifted from fear-based to pleasure-based approach to emphasize exploring sexuality, understanding healthy relationships, and building trust and intimacy by asking/giving consent
- Incorporated technology to acknowledge the role social media plays in shaping youth’s understanding of sex, sexuality, consent, and communication
- Translated curriculum into Spanish to increase accessibility among Spanish-speaking youth in the Washington, DC area
The program has had encouraging impacts on youth, highlighted in a focus group with participants in 2023. Below are responses to what key messages they learned in Many Ways of Being:
Youth 1: “I think the program was about teaching teenagers to have self-love and to understand that society often judges them, causing them to close themselves off and not do the things they want because they worry about what others will say. The program also explains about sexuality and genders, how people identify, and provides explanations about these topics.”
Youth 2: “[It’s important that] young people of our age should get regular medical check-ups to see if they have any sexually transmitted diseases. And there are also people who identify as not being attracted to the opposite sex or being attracted to the same sex, they have to be free. And there are many who need this type of class so that they can motivate themselves, seek help, and feel free, because in this space we were in, we had the chance to speak and no one was going to judge us for what we said.”
Youth 3: “It was important to learn that whatever your sexuality, if you have to go to the doctor, they have to treat you as you are. And if they don’t treat you how you want to be treated, you should change clinics or doctors.”
The curriculum was developed and designed in collaboration with the Healthy Teen Network for ongoing implementation in Washington DC, USA from 2022 – 2026. The program is being taught by amazing facilitators from the Latin American Youth Center and is currently being evaluated by Child Trends.
The Many Ways of Being curriculum was made possible by Grant Number 90AP2693 from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF). Its contents are solely the responsibility of Equimundo and do not necessarily represent the official views of the DHHS, ACF.