Iz is just finishing up her OWL (Our Whole Lives) sex ed class at our Unitarian church. She's been going for three hours every Sunday evening for several months. They've covered a wide range of topics, from dating to gender identity to STDs to reproduction to sexual identity (including a PFLAG presentation), and plenty of frank, frank talk.
I very much wish I'd had access to this kind of clear, non-judgmental information sharing when I was thirteen, and then spent time in an open and accepting Q&A arena. Wasn't going to happen in a Catholic RE class in 1983, no sir. But how many of us could have benefited from last week's exercise & discussion, I wonder? From the charming Derby, our UUFRC Director of Religious Education:
IKR?Tonight was all about sexually transmitted infections (STIs). We started with a condom obstacle course, which is designed to counter myths about condom use. The teens try condoms on their hands and see what they can feel through the condom (e.g., a feather) to counter the "I can't feel anything" myth. They stretch and measure (and in some cases, blow up like balloons) condoms to counter the "I'm too big" myth. Using wooden penis models, they practice putting on a condom correctly and see how quickly they can do so to counter the "it's too complicated" and "it will take too long" myths. This is widely regarded as the most popular activity of the entire OWL class.We followed the obstacle course with an activity that demonstrated transmission of STIs by exchanging M&Ms with various partners (different colors representing different STIs or no consequence). Next was a summary of several STIs (symptoms, permanent harm caused, cure, vaccine, transmission, and prevalence in the U.S. population). We followed that with a myth or fact game. Last, we had an activity in which the youth were asked to give advice to teens who had had sexual intercourse and were going to date someone new.
One of the joys of last weekend was witnessing my godson's First Communion at a local Catholic church. I hadn't been face-to-face with a crucifix since my dad's funeral almost exactly five years ago, I realized. And while I still respect Jesus and his messages mightily, and found the routine of the Mass comforting, I have no regrets about my chosen UU spirituality -- especially regarding its guidelines and supports for our children.