Main content | Sidebar | Links
Advertising

Monday, September 18, 2006

This week at uuworld.org: Sexuality education.

UUA President William G. Sinkford says it's time for Unitarian Universalists to "put our energy into a sustained and effective fight for comprehensive sexuality education."

In the news, Don Skinner reports on the California legislature's decision to replace a statue of a 19th-century Universalist-Unitarian statesman with a statue of Ronald Reagan. Skinner also reports on a fire Tuesday morning that destroyed the buildings of the UU congregation in Rock Tavern, New York. And Jane Greer reports on the Canton, New York, congregation's organic garden, which provides fresh produce to 16 area food banks.

And in uuworld.org's news blog, Sonja Cohen tracks additional coverage of the Rock Tavern fire and picks up early coverage of a ceremony at the U.S. Holocaust Museum honoring UUSC co-founders Martha and Waitstill Sharp for their heroism during World War II. (More on that story next week.)

Copyright © 2006 by Philocrites | Posted 18 September 2006 at 6:47 AM

Previous: Brother Roger's communion with the bishop of Rome.
Next: Jim Wallis, Bob Edgar join the blogosphere.

Advertising

Advertising

12 comments:

Bill Baar:

September 18, 2006 08:12 AM | Permalink for this comment

Why comprehensive sexuality education vs comprehensive sex-education? Is there a difference.

And marriage-equality: what in the world does that mean?

Our leadership tangles the language.

Steve Caldwell:

September 18, 2006 02:50 PM | Permalink for this comment

Bill ... the reason we use the word "sexuality" for programs like Our Whole Lives is that "sexuality education" is a much broader concept than "sex education."

Instead of just focusing just on body parts, reproduction, disease, and other medical - scientific subjects that are traditionally thought of as "sex education," the Our Whole Lives program looks at sexuality as a holistic subject that includes the following five areas:

- sensuality (phyisical responses to pleasure)
- intimacy (emotional connection with others)
- sexual identity (sex, gender, orientation, etc)
- sexual health and reproduction
- sexualization (use - abuse of sexual power)

This material is presented in a "circles of sexuality" model developed by Dr. Dennis Daily (University of Kansas). You can probably ask your congregation's Our Whole Lives educators for additional information on this. Or even better, you can ask your congregation's leadership to offer the Our Whole Lives curriculum for adults if you want more information.

Bill Baar:

September 18, 2006 05:57 PM | Permalink for this comment

I sat threw the orientation for parents. It's not something I felt a need to put energy into for a sustain and comprehensive fight (with whom?).

Between school and Church my kid got plenty and the outcome was she scored very high on tests for a career in Medicine. That's all we could figure when we got the results back.

Like I said. It seems tangled. If I'm supposed to fight somoeone: tell me who and why.

Bill Baar:

September 18, 2006 05:58 PM | Permalink for this comment

through... spell checkers drive me nuts...those I'll fight but they always seem to win.

Steve Caldwell:

September 18, 2006 10:21 PM | Permalink for this comment

Bill wrote:
-snip-
"Like I said. It seems tangled. If I'm supposed to fight somoeone: tell me who and why."

Bill,

You may want to see the documentary "Abstinence Comes to Albuquerque" which presents multiple viewpoints about comprehensive and abstinence-only sexuality education:

http://www.der.org/films/abstinence-comes-to-albuquerque.html

The video used to be freely available on Google video, but it doesn't appear to be available online tonight. However, the UUA Washington Office has free DVDs of this video that they can send to your congregation as a study resource.

The Albuquerque family that speaks out against the abstinence-only program used in their public schools is a UU family. It's worth viewing and it shows what is possible for us as committed UUs in our local communities.

Based on what is published on the SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the US) web site, your home state of Illinois uses over $7.3 million dollars of federal taxpayer dollars to teach abstinence-until-marriage education in spite of the fact that this abstinence-only approach has been demonstrated to be less effective than the comprehensive education approach:

Illinois Sexuality Education Info
http://www.siecus.org/policy/states/2005/mandates/IL.html

Fact Sheet on Abstinence and Comprehensive Sexuality Education
http://www.siecus.org/policy/research_says.pdf

Take care,
Steve

Shelby Meyerhoff:

September 19, 2006 09:45 AM | Permalink for this comment

Unitarian Universalists should also consider comprehensive sexuality education as part of the larger array of teen sexuality issues. Teenage womenís access to reproductive health care (including abortion, emergency contraception, and birth control) has long been under attack. The conservative pro-life movement has gone after the rights of those who are most vulnerable: teenagers and children. Youth under the age of 18 are often seen as politically impotent (because they are not able to vote) and incapable of making responsible choices. As long as teenagers are framed in this way, there will be ample opposition to comprehensive sexuality education, reproductive rights for teenagers, and basic health measures such as the HPV vaccine . We as Unitarian Universalists have the opportunity to present a more accurate view of youth: as caring, capable, responsible and politically organized!

(This is excerpted from my post at Promise the Children. )

Bill Baar:

September 19, 2006 04:10 PM | Permalink for this comment

re: abstinence-only sexuality

When I want to the meeting for parents of kids who would be taking the OWL program, I mentioned to the MD who does this for our Church, that when I was a teen, my High School Health Class showed Army training films on VD. I passed out cold in one viewing. (Opening scenes of advanced syphlis from the Royal Museum of Veneral Disease, Liverpool England... I passed out after the visuals with that opening credit.)

This Doc just looked at me and said he taught an abstinance-only program, and that he was mad at our public schools for not doing that; for spreading the myth that there was such a thing as safe sex because in his practice, he didn't see it.

I have no idea what the official UUA stand is on this with OWL, but for sure, kids are getting an abstinace message in Geneva Illinois. At least when this Doc teaches OWL.

Steve Caldwell:

September 20, 2006 07:41 AM | Permalink for this comment

Bill ... the OWL program does teach that abstaining from oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse is the best choice for younger adolescents. So we do offer an abstinence message in our congregations.

However, we don't offer the abstinence-only message that the Federal Government is pushing through funding restrictions. The federal funding restricts educators to the message that the only acceptable setting for sex is within marriage between a man and a woman.

Now, the abstinence-only programs raise some problems for our communities:

(1) Many children and youth are raised by single parents who may be dating and are sexually active as single adults. Does the abstinence-only message respect these parents?

(2) Many children and youth are legally prohibited from marriage because they are gay or lesbian. Shouldn't we offer health education that also addresses their needs too?

(3) Our children enter puberty in their teens but the average age for first marriage is around 27. By the time our children reach their early 20s, over 70% of them have experienced sexual intercourse. Given these facts, is teaching abstinence until marriage and not offering safer sex education responsible?

It's false to say that comprehensive programs like OWL are anti-abstinence. We do offer abstinence as one of many choices available and we provide complete information so our folks can make informed choices in their lives.

However, an abstinence-only until marriage message wouldn't be compatible with the values in the OWL program in my opinion.

Philocrites:

September 24, 2006 08:50 AM | Permalink for this comment

Other reactions to Sinkford's column: PeaceBang is getting tired of the perpetual call to arms. Chalicechick launches a long and continuing conversation about "standing on the side of keeping religion out of schools". (See also part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, and part 6!) Shelby, however, says "hooray for Bill Sinkford!"

Hey folks! Consider writing letters to the editor — or adapting your blog posts into letters to the editor — when something appears in UU World that provokes a strong response in you. Send 'em to world at uua.org, include your full name, congregation, city, state, and phone number. Thanks!

Bill Baar:

September 26, 2006 04:56 PM | Permalink for this comment

(2) Many children and youth are legally prohibited from marriage because they are gay or lesbian. Shouldn't we offer health education that also addresses their needs too?

I'm opposed to child-marriage; same-sex or opposite-sex. I suspect you are too, so I'm not quite sure what the intent here is.

(3) Our children enter puberty in their teens but the average age for first marriage is around 27. By the time our children reach their early 20s, over 70% of them have experienced sexual intercourse. Given these facts, is teaching abstinence until marriage and not offering safer sex education responsible?

As the MD who taught my kid's OWL program told me, if you want to avoid STD's, abstain from sex; if you have sex, have it with someone healthy and keep each other that way in an monogamous relationship.

I know two gays, who taught the predessor of this program, in a different UU Church... and I believe they taught pretty much the same thing. They both died of AIDs too and had made a pretty dramatic lifestyle change to a pretty strict sexual ethics but too late. This was back in the mid 80s.

None of this seems far right wing stuff to me. The problematic thing is the CDC recommendation now for routine AIDs testing. I think that probably makes sense too, and should be as routine as a cholesterol.

Religious Institute:

September 29, 2006 10:21 AM | Permalink for this comment

Rev. Debra Haffner of the Religious Institute discusses the adolescent sexuality education program at her local UU church at www.debrahaffner.blogspot.com. The Institute advocates access to comprehensive sexuality education and services for adolescents and adults.

Steve Caldwell:

October 1, 2006 09:01 PM | Permalink for this comment

Bill Baar wrote:
-snip-
Bill's quoting of Steve -- "(2) Many children and youth are legally prohibited from marriage because they are gay or lesbian. Shouldn't we offer health education that also addresses their needs too?"

Bill's reply -- I'm opposed to child-marriage; same-sex or opposite-sex. I suspect you are too, so I'm not quite sure what the intent here is.

Bill,

It's one thing to tell a child or a youth that the expected standard for all human sexual activity is that all sex happens within the confines of marriage.

This "expected standard" may be very unrealistic given that the average age for first marriage is age 27 and a very high percentage of youth and young adults are sexually active by age 20.

However, this is the standard that is funded by the US government since the 1996 Welfare Reform Law and is required for use by any state that accepts abstinence-only funding.

This expected standard tells our heterosexual youth that they are expected to remain abstinent until they marry (on average at age 27 -- which may be unrealistic). However, this expected standard tells our gay and lesbian youth that their sexuality doesn't even exist because the US government doesn't recognize gay marriage (e.g. the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act").

Does that clarify why abstinence-only education (as defined under federal law and federal guidelines) is troublesome?



Comments for this entry are currently closed.