Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sex Education at Church

Our eighth grade son started attending the "Our Whole Lives" sexuality education program at our church this past Sunday. This comprehensive program will run for the next twenty eight weeks. It was jointly developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ, and it provides honest, accurate, and age-appropriate information on sexuality subjects, including abstinence, decision-making about sexuality, contraception, sexual orientation, STD prevention, and masturbation.

People often ask me why my children need a sexuality education program. After all, they ask, don't you provide them will all the information they need? Actually, Greg asked the same thing. But, the reality is that we can't provide him with an opportunity to talk with his peers about these issues under the guidance of a trained adult and there are no doubt areas he would rather discuss with someone besides his mom. Our school system does NOT have a sex education program; thank goodness, our church does.

Now I am a bit biased about the OWL program, as I was an early advisor on its development and one of the pilot testers. But, as a parent, I am also thrilled that my church is sharing responsiblity for educating my child about these important issues, and that he, and the 23 other students, are learning early that sexuality and religion do go together.

Contrast that with the call I got this week from my daughter who is a college senior. She had just come from a lecture by some peer educators on abstinence where the slogan used was "Have you ever had an orgasm to die for?" She was furious -- "Mom, these are scare tactics. They don't help, they just deny people the information they need to make sure that sex can be safe." These aren't school mandated or government abstinence-only programs; these are student-led efforts. It's puzzling to me that abstinence-only groups are spreading on college campuses, and one can only hope as I told my daughter that other groups are making sure that comprehensive health education is available.

The folks at the UUA are now working on a young adult OWL curriculum. It can't come out soon enough. I'd hate to think my eighth grader is better prepared to make healthy sexual decisions than some 20 year olds on campus.


I am off to meetings at Harvard today on abstinence-only education, and I will take Monday off to observe Yom Kippour. "See you" on Tuesday.

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