Our Whole Lives is the excellent curriculum on sexuality developed as a collaborative project between the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. It is available on 5 different age levels: Kindergarten & Grade 1, Grades 4-6, Grades 7-9, Grades 10-12 and Adult. This curriculum recognizes sexuality education as a lifelong process of acquiring information and forming attitudes and values about identity, intimacy, relationships and sexual health.
The program also recognizes that sexuality education begins at home and continues through open, honest communication between parents and children. The aim of OWL is to provide resources to help parents talk about sexuality with their children. A parent orientation is required for the first four levels of OWL to introduce the curriculum and answer questions about the program. Participants are asked to maintain regular attendance and once the course has started drop-ins are not permitted.
Each of the five Our Whole Lives curricula makes the following assumptions:
- All persons are sexual.
- Sexuality is a good part of the human experience.
- Sexuality includes much more than sexual behavior.
- Human beings are sexual from the time they are born until they die.
- It is natural to express sexual feelings in a variety of ways.
- People engage in sexual behavior for a variety of healthy reasons: to express caring and love, to experience intimacy and connection with another, to share pleasure, to bring new life into the world, and to experience fun and relaxation.
- Sexuality in our society is damaged by violence, exploitation, alienation, dishonesty, abuse of power, and the treatment of persons as objects.
- It is healthier for young adolescents to postpone sexual intercourse.
Each of the levels of OWL is based on the following values:
Every person is entitled to dignity and self-worth and to his or her own attitudes and beliefs about sexuality.
Knowledge about human sexuality is helpful, not harmful. Every individual has the right to accurate information about sexuality and to have her or his questions answered.
- Consensual (both people consent)
- Nonexploitative (equal in terms of power; neither person pressures or forces the other into activities or behaviors)
- Mutually pleasurable
- Safe (no or low risk of unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, or emotional pain)
- Developmentally appropriate (appropriate to the age and maturity of persons involved)
- Based on mutual expectations and caring
- Respectful (including values of honesty and keeping commitments made to others)
We are called to enrich our lives by expressing sexuality in ways that enhance human wholeness and fulfillment and express love, commitment, delight, and pleasure. All persons have the right and obligation to make responsible sexual choices.
Justice and Inclusivity
We need to avoid double standards.
People of different ages, genders, races, backgrounds, income levels, physical abilities, and sexual orientations must have equal value and rights.
Sexual relationships should never be coercive or exploitative.
Being romantically and sexually attracted to both genders (bisexual), the same gender (homosexual), or the other gender (heterosexual) is natural in the range of human sexual experience.
At White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church the OWL curriculum is offered in grade 5 or 6, in grade 9, and once during grades 10-12.
This program affirms parents as the primary sexuality educators of their children. The 5th and 6th grade program supports parents in this role by inviting their involvement in the class in many ways. Before the curriculum is taught there is a parent orientation and after each session children bring to their families a HomeLink message to strengthen communication between parents and children. The parent guide to Our Whole Lives for the younger curriculum is a session by session guide to what the children learn in the program and a resource for parents in answering tough questions about sexuality issues.
Each level of OWL offers:
- up-to-date information and honest, age-appropriate answers to all participants’ questions
- activities to help participants clarify values and improve decision-making skills
- effective group-building to create a safe and supportive peer group
- education about sexual abuse, exploitation and harassment
- opportunities to critique media messages about gender and sexuality
- acceptance of diversity
- encouragement to act for justice
- a well designed, teacher-friendly leader’s guide
- parent orientation programs that affirm parents as the primary sexuality educators of their children
- Sexuality and Our Faith, an optional religious component for Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ settings.
If you are interested in learning more about this sexuality curriculum you can visit the UUA website, or contact the religious education office at White Bear UU Church at 651.426.2369.