Our Whole Lives–grade 8/9
2021 Registration Details
Because this class can only be held in person and students come from many different areas of metro Vancouver, we are requiring that all students be age 12 or older and fully vaccinated by the start of class (October 3rd). We will require masks indoors until they are no longer recommended by BC public health.
2021-22 Program dates:
Online Parent Orientation (Required) 7-9 pm Sept 19th
20 Sundays 1:00-2:30 pm October 3rd through May 15th
Two Saturday Retreats 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm Dec 11, May 28
Dates may be adjusted during the year to accommodate participant and facilitator needs.
Why Sexuality Education at Church?
Sexuality is an inherent part of being human. Our attitudes and approach to it are learned. We learn implicitly through what we observe from parents, peers, society, and the media. We learn explicitly through what we are taught–ideally with access to comprehensive, accurate, information.
Our Whole Lives teaches about the different aspects of our being encompassed by sexuality as illustrated by the Circles of Sexuality: sensuality, intimacy, sexual identity, sexual health and reproduction, and sexualization.
Unitarian Universalism’s seven principles are all upheld by offering this outstanding and life-saving program to our children, youth, and adults.
From the Grades 7-9 Curriculum, 2nd Edition Introduction
“Our Whole Lives: Sexuality Education for Grades 7-9 was developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. The curriculum is completely secular and free of specific religious doctrine or reference. However, the underlying values of the program reflect the justice-oriented traditions of both denominations. …
Our Whole Lives is a progressive approach to sexuality education that deals with the totality of human sexuality in a developmentally appropriate manner. It is based firmly on the values of self-worth, sexual health, responsibility, justice, and inclusivity. As a result, the program takes a stand on gender equity and the inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues, which are often excluded from traditional curricula. Criteria for sexually healthy relationships are clearly laid out as yardsticks for making decisions. Our Whole Lives helps young people adopt these very human values, and it provides them with information and skills they need for life.”
“This Sounds Weird”
I’ve heard from more than one parent that their child is much less enthusiastic than their parents about the Our Whole Lives sexuality education class. Trepidation, hesitation, and downright disinterest is perfectly normal with this age group of kids—especially when the example of recent OWL graduates enthusing about their experience is lacking. Wherever they are in development, they’re highly unlikely to be sexually active or even thinking about the possibility in real terms. Reactions to talking about sexuality with their peers can range from interest to embarrassment and everywhere in between.
I would encourage parents of kids in grade 8 or above to consider this opportunity as one not to be missed and have conversations to stress its importance. Facilitators are prepared to see reluctance, embarrassment and eye-rolls. We can take the long-view, whereas that is developmentally difficult for youth. The experience of both OWL facilitators and participants of the past is that initial reluctance is replaced by at least appreciation and even enthusiasm as the course moves on. I have never heard of a participant regretting having been a part of Our Whole Lives, I have heard regret from youth who have missed out on it. The adults who train as facilitators and the parents of participants universally comment that they wish they had this kind of education when they were young.
Don’t just take my words for it:
A Teenager Recalls Lessons from Our Whole Lives A very compelling story of a graduating senior who was a reluctant participant in Our Whole Lives, grade 8—very glad her parent made her go.
Further Reading on Sexuality Education
A review of Adult OWL by Oprah A detailed look at a group of adults’ experiences with the Adult OWL curriculum. The Adult Our Whole Lives course is being offered this winter/spring at South Fraser Unitarian church in Surrey.
Commendation of Church-based sex-ed from a UCC church Ann Hanson, minister for sexuality education and justice in the UCC, has been working on sexuality education for 40 years. She thinks the need for sex education is greater now than ever.
The Case for Sexuality Education Not directly referencing OWL, but has important key points on the importance of this type of education:
Two articles from SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States)