Title X: A Boon to Men, or a Barrier?

During the mid-1980s, family planning advocates might have wondered whether the Title X program was committed to improving men’s reproductive health. In 1982, the program stopped collecting data on services provided to men, on the grounds that such services were peripheral to those provided to women. Although administrators gave male-oriented projects priority status two years later, this step was soon undercut by a federal directive that made funding of priority programs optional.

To examine whether Title X was a help or a hindrance to men’s receiving services, Ross Danielson and colleagues interviewed 49 stakeholders, including clinic staff, regional Title X administrators and intermediary grantees. Their findings, reported in the September/October 1988 issue of Perspectives, revealed the following:

  • More than half of respondents believed the lack of male-specific data in Title X reports reduced the willingness of their agency to serve men. Some said the absence of data reinforced the misconception that Title X was meant to serve only women, and increased the likelihood that men’s services would be cut first during budget crunches.
  • Three-quarters said that lack of federal funding had reduced their ability to serve men. Most preferred consolidated funding to male-targeted funding, because the former was easier to administer and allowed greater flexibility; however, some thought that without targeted funds, many male-focused programs wouldn’t be implemented.
  • Despite their funding concerns, many respondents said that state and regional administrators had been supportive of efforts to serve male clients, and many had received training in delivering services to men, though typically not as much as they had desired.
  • Finally, some informants noted that their own staffs were female-centric and reluctant to serve men, either as a philosophic matter or because of lack of experience and training. Danielson and colleagues advised readers not to perceive the “female-centered tradition and character” of many family planning agencies as “antagonistic to men’s involvement,” and urged stakeholders to expand services for men without imposing “arbitrary changes” on clinics.

Cover illustrations of Margaret Sanger © Matthew and Eve Levine