By Maria Cory
Owls—rarely vocalizing in the presence of humans; able to come and go without detection; able to do things at night most creatures cannot; large, observing eyes. While owls are excellent hunters, and mythology and some cultures have long featured this creature as mysterious and wise, they aren't necessarily more intelligent than a lot of other birds.
However, the "OWL" of another species measures up to the title's idiom! We are grateful for facilitators Jeff Hinkley and Lehni Lebert for bringing to Sunday Morning Forum a preview of "Our Whole Lives" (OWL)—a comprehensive, lifespan sexuality education curricula for use in both secular settings and faith communities.
Many present-day seniors give account of their upbringing where any family conversation about sexuality was non-existent or repressed. Today's parents long for another method of teaching their children about this sensitive subject. Suitably, the silent owl and "Mum's the Word" demeanors are being replaced by holistic, wisdom-filled attitudes and instruction.
OWL affirms that well-informed youth and young adults make healthier, more responsible decisions about sexual health and behavior than those without complete information. Based upon four core values—self worth; sexual health; responsibility; and justice and inclusivity—the integrated approach strives to dismantle stereotypes and assumptions, build self-acceptance and self-esteem and foster healthy relationships. Recognizing and respecting human diversity regarding sexuality, this UUA/UCC*-sponsored program is inclusive in its carefully chosen workshops and language.
UUFP is fortunate to have a number of teachers trained to lead this developmentally age-appropriate curriculum, recently offered to our middle and high school students. "The course is providing the tools so that they become a reference for their peers," comments OWL-trained facilitator Jeff Hinkley.
The Adult Religious Education Committee is also pleased that a four-part, evening course geared for adults is planned for this October (dates TBA). Should you have a topical question for the facilitators to consider addressing during the evening series, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
OWL, and honest, comprehensive and respectful approaches to sexuality, certainly align with our UU values. In UU-form, bringing our whole selves, our full identities, our questioning minds, and our expansive hearts to the table, facing these challenging questions together has the potential to transform and save lives. What better pursuit during our whole lives?
*Unitarian Universalist Association & United Church of Christ