Sexual Health

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Our Philosophy on Sexual Health

All Toronto Public Health (TPH) employees are expected to follow these guidelines when engaging in work related to sexual health.

 

Our philosophy

We value the experiences of individuals from diverse communities and backgrounds in the planning and delivery of all our projects and programs. We recognize the historical effects of unjust and excessive power. These experiences affect how we are treated in society and how we treat each other. Respect for all individuals within diverse communities is an essential part of our healthy city and is supported by all staff at TPH.

 

Our mandate

The mandate of the Sexual Health Program is to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Sexual health, however, extends far beyond this mandate.

Sexuality is an important part of every human being, which includes how we act, think and feel. Healthy sexuality cannot be separated from basic human rights. This includes a person's right to freedom from discrimination, harassment, and violence. TPH staff respect these basic human rights and advocate for individuals when these rights are denied.

Our programs aim to promote a satisfying, safe and pleasurable sexual life, while reducing harm, judgement, shame, guilt, coercion, and abuse.

Sexual Health Program Principles

ExpandHarm Reduction

We respond to drug and alcohol misuse in ways that do not demand abstinence. We respond to the needs and priorities of individuals using these substances, their families, and communities.

ExpandRisk Reduction

We respond to sexual activities in ways that minimize risk and change behaviour, while responding to the needs, priorities and choices of individuals and communities with respect and non-judgement.

ExpandEducation and Counselling

When educating or counselling about sexual health issues, our staff are:

  • Bound by TPH policies on confidentiality
  • Inclusive, respectful and non-judgemental

TPH staff emphasize the self-worth, self-determination and dignity of all individuals.

  • Sex-positive

TPH staff acknowledge that sexual expression and pleasure are important aspects of being human.

  • Inclusive and acknowledges all gender identities and sexual orientations

TPH staff understand that sexual orientation (who we are attracted to) and gender identity (how we self-identify our gender) is an integral part of every human being, sometimes fluid, sometimes fixed. We include, acknowledge and celebrate all gender identities and sexual orientations in our programs, policies and written materials. TPH is committed to responding to the needs of marginalized identities.

  • Advocates

TPH staff acknowledge the strength of individuals, groups, and communities and works with them and/or as their allies to bring their sexual health needs and concerns to all levels of government.

  • Pro-choice

TPH staff provide information on all pregnancy options (continuing the pregnancy and choosing to parent, continuing the pregnancy and having an adoption/fostering plan, or having a therapeutic abortion). 

ExpandSensitivity towards Disclosure

TPH staff are sensitive to the difficult process of disclosing personal information when counselling clients about:

  • HIV/AIDS

TPH staff counsel HIV positive clients to disclose their HIV status to sexual partners and to practice risk reduction strategies. We assist with HIV disclosure when it is necessary or appropriate to do so. TPH staff will take measures when necessary to protect the public's health.

  • Sexual/Physical Abuse

TPH staff have a legal obligation to report suspected and disclosed sexual/physical abuse for those 16 years of age and under (or 18 years of age and under, if in protected custody).

  • Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity

TPH staff support the autonomy of individuals in deciding if, when and to whom they wish to disclose.