When You Can’t Do OWL-Do This!

Updated 09/2022

These resources update at least quarterly, so be sure to check for the latest version on our websites: www.uua.org/re/owl/facilitators and https://www.ucc.org/what-we-do/justice-local-church-ministries/justice/health-and-wholeness-advocacy-ministries/facilitator-resources/.

PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS AS SEXUALITY EDUCATORS

UCC Parents and Caregivers As Sexuality Educators Available here!

UUA version available FREE here: https://www.uua.org/families/sexuality-educators

To see the webinar on this topic, including tips for online adaption, go here

Ideas for activities and conversations to have by age:

  • Under Your Wing video series for parents and caregivers of children in grades K-1, with conversation starters and book recommendations, from Dorian Solot and Marshall Miller. https://www.uua.org/re/owl/videos-k-1
  • K-1: Note: Watch the webinar with our K-1 revisions authors, Dorian Solot and Marshall Miller!
    • Read Neither by Airlie Anderson.
      • Have you ever felt like you were left out?
      • What creation would you add to the Land for All?
    • Help your child write or dictate one thing they think is special about your family. Then encourage your child to draw a picture to illustrate these ideas.
    • Get from the library or buy for your family’s collection one or more children’s book about families. Read the book(s) and talk about it with your child. It can be nice to read some books about family diversity that explore many types of families, some books that reflect your own family’s structure or situation, and some books about families different than your own.
    • Each of the books below show many kinds of families.
      • A Family Is a Family Is a Family by Sara O’Leary
      • My Family, Your Family by Lisa Bullard
      • The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman
      • Who’s in My Family? All About Our Families by Robie Harris
    • BOOKS ABOUT LGBTQ FAMILIES
      • And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell.
      • Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman.
      • Stella Brings the Family by Miriam Schiffer.
    • BOOKS ABOUT ADOPTION
      • All About Adoption: How Families Are Made and How Kids Feel About It by Marc Nemiroff and Jane Annunziata.
      • Happy Adoption Day by John McCutcheon
      • My New Mom and Me by Renata Galindo.
      • Wonderful You: An Adoption Story.
    • BOOKS ABOUT SINGLE PARENT FAMILIES
      • Love Is a Family by Roma Downey.
      • Two Is Enough by Janna Matthies.
    • BOOKS ABOUT CHILDREN WHOSE PARENTS ARE DIVORCED OR SEPARATED (Note: All the books in this section refer to the separation or divorce of a mom and a dad).
      • Living with Mom and Living with Dad by Melanie Wals
  • Standing on My Own Two Feet: A Child’s Affirmation of Love in the Midst of Divorce by Tamara Schmitz
    • Two Homes by Claire Masurel
    • BOOKS ABOUT CHILDREN IN FOSTER FAMILIES
      • Kids Need To Be Safe by Julie Nelson
      • Maybe Days: A Book for Children in Foster Care by Jennifer Wilgocki and Marcia Kahn Wright
      • Speranza’s Sweater by Marcy Pusey.
    • BOOKS ABOUT OTHER KINDS OF FAMILIES AND SITUATIONS
      • Families Change: A Book for Children Experiencing Termination of Parental Rights by Julie Nelson
      • Sometimes It’s Grandmas and Grandpas Not Mommies and Daddies by Gayle Bryne
      • Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs by Susan Schaefer Bernardo.

Guidelines for Adapting OWL for Grades 4-6 for Online Use

NOTE: This adaptation was field tested in a school environment with 5th graders. It is important to note that this means all the children knew each other before the program started, and they had established group norms for acceptable and respectful behavior online. We HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you make sure these two things are in place in any group with which you attempt to run this adaptation.
If you choose to offer online sexuality education for grades 4-6, review these recommendations:

NOTE: Designing an online program based on pieces of Our Whole Lives requires much more planning and preparation than does using the published curriculum. You and your facilitators will need to determine whether they can take on this amount of preparation and planning.

Change the name. You will be using an untested adaptation of your own design, based on the information included here. Be sure you call this something other than Our Whole Lives since it is not the entire program. One option is to call it “Taking Flight” and to make it clear to parents and caregivers that it uses some OWL material but does not provide the comprehensive sexuality education that OWL does.

Shorten the program and session time. Youth are screened out. Shorten the time to 60 minutes maximum, allowing for time for discussion and knowing you may need to still cut activities.

Engage 2-4 facilitators. If you use breakout rooms in Zoom, each room should be moderated by two adults to maintain safe church/congregation practices. This means that for any module with break- out room activities, you will need to double the number of adults moderating. At least one trained OWL facilitator should be in each breakout room.

Create a safety plan. What is your plan if a participant appears troubled, distracted, or disengaged? Pulling them one-on-one into a breakout room with one facilitator is not an option in keeping with Safe Congregation/Safe Church recommendations. What will you do if you think a youth is using a cell phone to record a conversation, or if a family member or friend interrupts?

Require a Parent Orientation. Completely design for every module in advance so you can inform parents about what you are including and excluding. Explain that there will be far less content, far

less experiential learning, less self-exploration, and less community building. Acknowledge that your program may not be accessible to youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder, attention-related disabilities, or other issues that make Zoom meetings a challenge.

Emphasize group covenanting with parents, youth, and facilitators. Each family will need to covenant to respect a zone of privacy that ensures no one interrupts the youth during your sessions, and that no adults, siblings, or friends listen in from in the youth’s room or from behind closed doors. The covenant should include a prohibition against guests as well as cell phones, screen shots, and recording during sessions. We recommend requiring signed agreement from both youth and parents for these pieces.

Focus on meaning making, not content. The goal should be to help youth explore their own sexual values and to build social and sexual decision-making skills.

Create an anonymous Question Box. We found Jamboard to work well and allow privacy/anonymity. Operate with transparency and consent from the group.

Incorporate Sexuality and Our Faith. Utilize some of the content from Sexuality and Our Faith to bookend your online sessions or to provide additional questions during your time together if you are in a UCC or UUA congregation.

Basic Workshop-By-Workshop Outline

Workshop 1:

Sexuality and Values helps participants clarify, support, and communicate their values about sexuality.

  • Introductions and welcome
  • Circles of Sexuality
    • create a Google slide or Jamboard with the circles, and one with circles and the sticky notes/squares below with phrases (see “Choose 10…”)
    • Go over briefly what each of the circles means
    • Choose 10 behaviors/phrases from the list in the curriculum, choosing 2 from each category
    • Create sticky notes/squares for each of the behaviors/phrases, making half one color and half another color
    • Share the slide or Jamboard with the sticky notes/squares with the group
    • Divide the group into 2 breakout rooms, assign each group one color of sticky notes, and have each group discuss them and move the sticky notes to where they think they belong on the circles
    • Process afterward
      • What was easy about that? Difficult?
      • Would you move any of them in the other group? Which one(s)? Why?
      • Any questions?
  • Taking sides
    • Preparation
      • On Zoom, click Share Screen and choose White Board*
      • On the Draw menu, choose the icon with two arrows
      • Create a continuum on the white board
  • using the text box feature, place the word “Agree” on one side of the continuum and “Disagree” on the other side
    • Share your screen with the group. Tell them to choose “annotate” and then to choose a stamp under the stamp menu.
    • Read your choice of statements for taking sides. Ask each participant to place a stamp on the end with “Agree” or “Disagree” Process the activity, asking for input about why they chose what they chose
    • *Alternately, ask them to type “Agree” or “Disagree” in the chat box and then process
    • Remember to ask for those with the minority opinion to go first, and to validate their thinking.
  • Word Bank
    • Create a Jamboard with terms on one color sticky note and definitions on the other
    • Ask participants to guess which definitions go with which words
  • Question “Box” or “Board”
    • Preparation:
      • Create a Jamboard with the title Question Board.
      • Share the Jamboard so that anyone with a link can edit
      • If participants are new to the Jamboard, show them how to click on a sticky note and write a question.
    • Introduce the Question Box/Board. Explain that at the end of each workshop, you will ask that they turn cameras off for 1-2 minutes so that anyone who would like to can write a question on a sticky note on a Jamboard, and it will be anonymous.
    • Ask them to turn the cameras off for 1-2 minutes.
  • Turn cameras back on, thank them for participating and give them the reading for next week, and let them know they will each need one magazine, preferably one with lots of pictures of people in it.
  • Send out HomeLinks to Parents/caregivers for the workshop

Workshop 2:

Images in Popular Culture helps participants become informed and aware of how the media portray sexuality.

  • Greet participants and answer question “box” questions
  • Collage activity: each participant will make their own collage, or alternately, look through their magazine to find pictures of people engaging in activities.
  • Process, saying: What do you see?
    • Do you see people romantically connected?
    • Do you see any same-gender couples?
    • Do you see anyone who appears to be gender-fluid?
    • Do you see interracial couples?
    • People with disabilities?
    • People with different sized and shaped bodies?
    • Are there many people of color represented?
    • What do you think about all of this?
    • Briefly discuss what beauty standards/attractiveness messages, etc.
  • Alternately, create a Zoom white board with categories of Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Never. Ask them to place a stamp at in one of those areas by changing the above questions to” How often do you see…”
  • Word Bank-Media literacy–define the one term for them
  • Question Box turn cameras off, invite to write a question on Jamboard, not everyone has to type something
  • Turn cameras back on, and say goodbye
  • Send out HomeLinks to Parents/caregivers for the workshop

Workshop 3:

Body Image helps participants explore the concept of body image, understand the diverse experiences people have with their body and its abilities, and consider ways to keep their own body healthy.

  • Greet participants and answer questions
  • Different kinds of bodies–do this online, having It’s Perfectly Normal open to show the appropriate pictures
  • Watch fabricating beauty live-share screen and process https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7maC1IGnrO0
  • Read the Sammie story and process
  • Dear Body–if time, ask them to write a short letter of gratitude to their body
  • Question box- turn cameras off, invite to write a question on Jamboard, not everyone has to type something
  • Turn cameras back on, and say goodbye
  • Send out HomeLinks to Parents/caregivers for the workshop

Workshop 4:

Changes of Puberty helps participants understand the physical and emotional changes of puberty.

  • Greet participants and answer question “box” questions
  • Consider watching this video from Great Conversations- Is Puberty Weird? video https://youtu.be/FH0GBlcQ_Yo
  • Need to talk about periods and wet dream
  • Wet dreams: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_mWKHpEhaU
  • Activity-period product video-show and tell for products-do online
  • Word Bank–there are a lot of words for this session, so choose 10-15 to ask their help to match definitions with words on a Jamboard. Alternately, use an online platform to create a word cloud with all the puberty vocabulary words.
  • Question Box turn cameras off, invite to write a question on Jamboard, not everyone has to type something
  • Turn cameras back on, and say goodbye
  • Send out HomeLinks to Parents/caregivers for the workshop

Workshop 5:

Gender helps participants examine the messages they receive about gender. They learn what it means to have a gender identity and about some of the many variations in sexual identity.

  • Greet participants and answer question “box” questions
  • Gender overview (SIEO)–use information in the curriculum to go over the differences in sex assigned at birth, gender identity, and gender expression
  • Brainstorm—use a Jamboard or whiteboard to capture stereotypes-what are the different stereotypes about gender that you have heard/know about/experienced? Process this activity-with questions from curriculum
  • Word Bank- Jamboard with terms and definitions (covered with a blank note) that can be uncovered as you go along.
  • Question Box- turn cameras off, invite to write a question on Jamboard, not everyone has to type something
  • Turn cameras back on, and say goodbye
  • Send out HomeLinks to Parents/caregivers for the workshop

Workshop 6:

Feelings and Attraction helps participants understand the concept of being romantically attracted to someone else, whether of a different gender or the same gender. Participants learn some of the terms commonly used to talk about sexual orientation and think about what people may do in a variety of scenarios related to attraction.

  • Answer questions
  • Lead the Sexual Orientation Overview from curriculum
  • What would you do if-Have Jamboard ready ahead of time with the prompts
  • Process the activity
  • Create a Jamboard with terms on one color sticky note and definitions on the other
  • Ask participants to guess which definitions go with which words
  • question box- turn cameras off, invite to write a question on Jamboard, not everyone has to type something
  • Turn cameras back on, and say goodbye
  • Send out HomeLinks to Parents/caregivers for the workshop

Workshop 7:

Reproduction and Staying Healthy covers conception, pregnancy, contraception, sexually transmitted infections, and other possible consequences of sexual activity.

  • Greet participants and answer question “box” questions
  • Pregnancy-describe how it happens: It takes 3 things to make a baby: an egg, a sperm, and a uterus. A person with a uterus and ovaries who has gone through puberty, has eggs that begin releasing from the ovaries as part of the monthly menstruation cycle, usually one egg about every month. People with a penis and testicle who have gone through puberty start producing sperm in their testicles. When a person with eggs and a person with sperm make a decision to bring their bodies so close together that the person with the penis puts that penis into the person with the egg’s vagina, hundreds of millions of sperm release out of the penis. This act is called sexual intercourse, or some people say, “having sex.” When a sperm finds an egg, it creates a new cell that begins dividing and then that group of cells implants into the walls of the uterus. That is when pregnancy occurs. The cells keep dividing until about 9 months, or 40 weeks later, a baby is ready to be born. (Note: if you get questions about other ways egg and sperm can come together, you can let them know that there is amazing science available that can help an egg and sperm come together outside of a uterus; however, it still takes a person with eggs and a person with sperm to make the decision to bring them together to create a baby, and those cells still need a uterus to grow in)
  • contraception-basic overview that contraception or birth control is a term used to describe methods of keeping eggs and sperm apart; there are two main ways to do this: hormonal/medicinal ways that prevent an egg from releasing and barrier methods, which keep the sperm and egg from meeting. (Note that hormonal methods do not protect from STIs)
  • (STIs can read more about in It’s Perfectly Normal) –barrier/condoms are only one that protects against STIs
  • Read and discuss Rowan’s story if you have time
  • Word Bank- Jamboard with terms and definitions (covered with a blank note) that can be uncovered as you go along.
  • question box- turn cameras off, invite to write a question on Jamboard, not everyone has to type something
  • Turn cameras back on, and say goodbye
  • Send out HomeLinks to Parents/caregivers for the workshop

Workshop 8:

Decisions and Actions educates participants about a range of sexual activity, including masturbation and sexually explicit media/pornography. Participants have an opportunity to think about when they would and would not want to engage in certain behaviors.

  • Greet participants and answer question “box” questions
  • Explain that people get lots of mixed messages from lots of places about when to engage in sexual behavior, with whom, etc. It is important to think about what their values are around different topics, and what they might do in tricky situations.
  • Go through 2-3 scenarios from Decisions, Decisions with the group and discuss
  • When would I? Create a Jamboard with responses (Now, When I’m Older, Never, It Depends). Show Jamboard and read through activities on Handout 13. Allow time for them to think and choose themselves. This can be done silently or with discussion.
  • Word Bank- Jamboard with terms and definitions (covered with a blank note) that can be uncovered as you go along.
  • question box turn cameras off, invite to write a question on Jamboard, not everyone has to type something
  • Turn cameras back on, and say goodbye
  • Send out HomeLinks to Parents/caregivers for the workshop

Workshop 9:

Consent and Peer Pressure helps participants learn how to communicate about consent, to examine situations in which consent is violated, and to identify people in their lives who can offer help.

  • Greet participants and answer question “box” questions
  • Talk about consent. You might ask what they know about it. Give them the definition of consent and refusal. You might consider using a slide or Jamboard to show the definitions.
  • Do the Situation stations activity by choosing 2-3 scenarios to process in the group. If you have a large group, you may choose to split up into breakout rooms if you have enough adult leaders to have 2 per breakout room. Be sure to include Situation 6 as one of the scenarios with Kennedy and Riley because it is a positive example of consent.
  • Define Peer pressure and the three kinds
  • Ask them to write in the chat which trusted adult(s) they would tell if something scary or bad happened to them.
  • Word Bank- Jamboard with terms and definitions (covered with a blank note) that can be uncovered as you go along.
  • question box- turn cameras off, invite to write a question on Jamboard, not everyone has to type something
  • Turn cameras back on, and say goodbye
  • Send out HomeLinks to Parents/caregivers for the workshop

Workshop 10: Healthy Relationships, Communication, and Celebration! helps participants understand the components of a healthy relationship and gives them an opportunity to practice communicating effectively. This workshop includes a program-conclusion celebration.

  • Greet participants and answer question “box” questions
  • Using the method where one person shares and then chooses another person to share, ask each person to share one quality of a Healthy relationship. They can use someone else’s answer if it was the same one they were thinking of. Summarize what you heard them say.
  • Remind them of some of the topics you have covered in the previous 9 sessions. (values, media literacy, body image, puberty, gender, attraction, reproduction, decisions, consent, and more!) Consider making a word cloud with all the word bank terms you defined during the program. Remind them those definitions are in the HomeLinks that were sent home to their parents/caregivers.
  • Read a cookie recipe. Say that the recipe is important because if any of the ingredients or steps are left out, the cookies might not taste very good. Divide them into groups of four (if you are able to do so–you do not have to have an adult in each breakout room for this–they can use the raise hand feature if they need help, and you or your co-facilitator can circulate through the groups to see if they need help. Tell them they have 5 minutes to come up with a recipe for being in a healthy and safe relationship for their whole lives. Tell them to consider the things they have learned throughout the program, taking care to put the “ingredients” in logical order, and adding any steps they think are important.
  • Gather them back to share their recipes. Validate what they have learned. Let them know if they heard an ingredient that sounded good to them, they can add it to their recipe.Take a few minutes to celebrate in a way that works for you. Perhaps you have mailed them a certificate or small gift, or you all have snacks together.
  • Wish your participants well and say goodbye.

Guidelines for Adapting OWL for Grades 7-9 for Online Use

What About OWL Online?

  • The Our Whole Lives staff of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ empathize with those of you whose OWL programs were interrupted by COVID-related shutdowns and those whose new programs are on hold. In response to these challenges, we are developing solutions that are safe, accessible, creative, and values-based.
o   If you choose to offer online sexuality education for grades 7-9, review these recommendations:
  • The following recommendations are parameters for adaptions used in an online program based on Our Whole Lives for Grades 7-9 ONLY. Resources for other levels will be available through ongoing monthly webinars.
  • These recommendations are not an endorsement; rather, they are offered to help you created programing that is as safe and responsible as possible during this pandemic period. We strongly recommend returning to your in-person program as soon as it is safe to do so for all participants and facilitators.

NOTE: Designing an online program based on pieces of Our Whole Lives requires much more planning and preparation than does using the published curriculum. You and your facilitators will need to determine whether they can take on this amount of preparation and planning.

  • Change the name. You’ll be using an untested adaptation of your own design, so you may not use the Our Whole Lives name. One option is to call it “Taking Flight” and to make it clear to parents and caregivers that it uses some OWL material but does not provide the comprehensive sexuality education that OWL does.
  • Determine where to begin. Will you finish an interrupted program or to start from scratch?
  • Shorten the program and session time. Youth are screened out and should not spend nearly 40 hours online, completing 25-26 90-minute workshops. At most, offer 18 “modules” of 30 minutes for sexuality education plus an optional 10 minutes for Sexuality and Our Faith (if yours is a UU or UCC program).
  • Engage 2-4 facilitators. If you use breakout rooms in Zoom, each room should be moderated by two adults to maintain safe church/congregation practices. This means that for any module with break- out room activities, you’ll need to double the number of adults moderating. At least one trained OWL facilitator should be in each breakout room.
  • Create a safety plan. What is your plan if a participant appears troubled, distracted, or disengaged? Pulling them one-on-one into a breakout room with one facilitator is not an option in keeping with Safe Congregation/Safe Church recommendations. What will you do if you think a youth is using a cell phone to record a conversation, or if a family member or friend interrupts?
  • Re-run and require a new Parent Orientation. Completely design for every module in advance so you can inform parents about what you’re including and excluding. Explain that there will be far less content, far less experiential learning, less self-exploration, and less community building.

Acknowledge that your program may not be accessible to youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder, attention-related disabilities, or other issues that make Zoom meetings a challenge.

  • Emphasize group covenanting with parents, youth, and facilitators. Each family will need to covenant to respect a zone of privacy that ensures no one interrupts the youth during your sessions, and that no adults, siblings, or friends listen in from in the youth’s room or from behind closed doors. The covenant should include a prohibition against guests as well as cell phones, screen shots, and recording during sessions. We recommend requiring signed agreement from both youth and parents for these pieces.

o   Review and incorporate 2020 Recommended Curriculum Updates. You will find the link at www.uua.org/re/owl under Facilitator Resources (scroll to the bottom of the page for latest information).

  • Focus on meaning making, not content. The goal should be to help youth explore their own sexual values and to build social and sexual decision-making skills. You might show some short videos during group sessions and provide other links for independent viewing or reading (see the curated resources we’ve provided in the Facilitator Resources area online). Group time can focus on discussion and meaning making. Try to retain the diverse voices in the Readings.
  • Create an anonymous Question Box. Consider how you will ensure privacy when youth submit questions; alternately, clarify that while questions in Chat boxes can be submitted privately to the facilitators, those adults will know who asked the question. Operate with transparency and consent from the group.
  • Incorporate Sexuality and Our Faith. Utilize some of the content from Sexuality and Our Faith to bookend your online sessions or to provide additional questions during your time together. NOTE: Use of the Sexuality and Our Faith DVD is prohibited online and in this unauthorized program context. The good news is that Our Whole Lives is a fabulous and comprehensive sexuality education program even without these visuals.
  • Provide an at-home reference book. See recommendations on our curated list.

Suggested Outline:

This outline creates modules from elements in different OWL workshops. Track timing of all elements you wish to use so you can limit the entire module to 30 minutes (40, if using Sexuality and Our Faith). Incorporate the 2020 curriculum updates as you go. Focus on helping participants to process information and ideas through a lens of personal and OWL values, which is a skill they’ll not likely gain through school programming.

Module 1: What is Sexuality?

  • Group introductions and warm-up activity
  • Group covenant
  • Circles of Sexuality
  • Introduce Question Box

Module 2: Sexuality and Values

  • Chat-box check in: “Type one word that describes your week/how you’re feeling, etc.” Follow this quick process in each module.
  • Question Box – Spend 1 min. or less on each answer. Type trusted URLs into chat box for additional information (Amaze.org, Bedsider.org, etc.)
  • Values Voting – Use hand signals, Kahoot, Poll Anywhere or unmuting and calling out answers if participants have visual challenges
  • Personal Values Activity

Module 3: Language

  • Asynchronous, pre-session: Assign reading on the four types of sexuality language. Listen to several songs of your own choice and identify the messages presented and type of language used.
    • Synchronous discussion of pre-session assignments. How does language reflect sexual values? Who can be harmed by different types of language? Who can be supported?
    • Agreements: Which type of language will be used in this program? Note: if the vote is to use slang, discuss it in light of OWL values.)

Module 4: Sexual Anatomy and Physiology

  • Asynchronous: Provide URLs to a basic overview of sexual and reproductive anatomy so questions can be answered during the synchronous session.
    • Discuss sexual anatomy as a continuum of difference
    • Connect messaging about anatomy to impossible “ideals”
    • Body image (in general, not just genitals), Part 1

Module 5: Puberty

  • Give an overview of basic physical changes, keeping language gender neutral
    • Facilitate discussion of how to navigate physical, emotional and social changes
    • Body image, Part 2 – Facilitate discussion of peer pressure related to appearance, general media, and social media

Module 6: Gender Identity and Expression

  • Use readings and activities from these workshops without assuming “our youth already know all about this.”
    • Affirm a range of identities and build communication skills so youth can engage family, friends, and peers in conversation.

Module 7: Attraction

  • Select activities that create space for those both comfortable with their own and others’ orientations, including asexuality.
    • Optional Guest Panel: If you select this option, you will need to schedule a longer session.

Module 8: Sexuality and Disability

  • Focus on normalizing visible and invisible disabilities, the fact that everyone may eventually experience disability or chronic illness and/or enter into relationship with people who do.
    • Show (Sex) Abled video listed in the OWL curriculum (streaming is 99 cents at SexSmartFilms) and use processing questions.
    • Scenarios: What Would You Do?

Module 9: Relationships

  • Combine elements of the two existing workshops, such as Deal Makers & Deal Breakers and a combination of Healthy & Unhealthy and Power & Equality activities?
    • Discuss how social media (workshop 14) or distance (even when not in a pandemic) affect relationships?

Module 10: Bullying & Bystander Issues

  • See video recommendations and processing questions.
    • Act out Scenarios provided in the curriculum
    • Discuss social media bystander responsibilities (See Social Media and Internet workshop)

Module 11: Redefining Abstinence

  • Topics to include: Masturbation, ways to build intimacy while respecting boundaries, values about sexual decision making, legalities related to sexting.
    • Discuss alternatives to in-person sexual activity, such as conversations, online or physically distanced games, meals, movie watching via Netflix Party, gaming, and being outside.
    • Discuss what intimacy is, how it can be fostered during social distancing, and how to anticipate managing relationships when physical distancing is no longer required.

Module 12: Lovemaking

  • Focus on informed decision making. The recommended activities below would each take up most of your session time. Consider creating resources for pre-reading prior to the session, so the synchronous time focuses on informed decision making.
    • Lovemaking: Myth Versus Fact
    • Is This a Healthy Sexual Relationship?

Module 13: Consent

  • Select a range of readings and activities, including discussion about how consent can be assessed in social media/online communications.
    • Include information from OWL Workshop 14 regarding online safety.

Module 14: STIs and Contraception

  • Consider assigning pre-reading on STIs and contraception so synchronous discussion can focus on answering questions and communication skills.
    • Amaze.org and Bedsider.org provide excellent self-learning tools.

Module 15: Unintended Consequences

  • Normalize STI diagnosis and treatment.
    • Destigmatize unintended pregnancy.
    • Discuss options for unintended pregnancy and cultural attitudes around these choices. Facilitators should prepare by understanding their state laws and the reproductive justice implications of access to and lack of access to healthcare and reproductive choices.

Module 16: Decision Making

  • Select modifiable activities.
    • Convert How Do I Decide? Activity into a Kahoot or PollAnywhere poll.
    • Set aside time for participants to discuss how they’d like to celebrate completing the program.

Module 17: Communicating with a Sexual Partner

  • Consider assigning the Checklist for pre-session work with live-session discussion.
    • Retain the “Why I Always Use a Condom” reading. Discuss how the same scenario might go with a same-sex couple needing protection from STIs.
    • Engage two additional adults if you use break out rooms for small group discussion.

Module 18: Wrap up and Celebration

  • Select a video or two for pre-session viewing and in-person discussion.
    • Modify the Health Resources activity for online use.
    • Celebrate program completion by incorporating participant suggestions.
    • Invite participants to use the Chat to provide feedback on your online program. Save a copy of the Chat comments and if you are moved to do so, please remove youth names and send their comments to owl@uua.org and owl@ucc.org.

Guidelines for Adapting OWL for Older Adults for Online Use

The Our Whole Lives staff of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ empathize with those of you whose OWL programs were interrupted by pandemic-related shutdowns and those whose new programs have been postponed. In response to these challenges, we are developing solutions that are safe, accessible, creative, and values-based, such as suggestions for online adaptions of Our Whole Lives and Sexuality and Our Faith.

Pros and Cons of Online Sexuality Education

The highly interactive, two-hour workshop format of Our Whole Lives doesn’t lend itself to online use. Participants’ living situations may not offer dependable privacy for conversations and learning. Online programs miss the hands-on activities that foster a deeply meaningful, engaging experience. Also, they may not be accessible to participants who are not comfortable using technology. On the other hand, online programming can be a good alternative when in-person gatherings pose health risks or when accessibility challenges preclude people from attending in-person programs.

We hope you can return to your in-person program as soon as it is safe to do so for participants and facilitators. In the meantime, you can incorporate these suggestions to provide some programming online. When in-person meetings are possible, you can discuss with participants whether they’d like to start over with the curriculum as designed or pick up from wherever you reached in the online adaptation.

Guidelines for Adapting Our Whole Lives for Older Adults for Online Use

Change the name. You’ll be using an untested adaptation of your own design, so you may not call it an Our Whole Lives program. You may mention in your marketing that you incorporate materials from an OWL program, but do not imply that you are offering an Our Whole Lives program. We suggest the name, Taking Flight: A Sexuality Education Program for Older Adults.

Use two trained OWL facilitators. We strongly recommend that your online program be co-facilitated by We strongly recommend that your online program be co-facilitated by two adults who have been approved to facilitate the Older Adults curriculum. If you have facilitators trained to lead Young Adult and/or Adult Our Whole Lives, arrange for them to attend a webinar to become approved for the Older Adult Level. Contact owl@uua.org or owl@ucc.org for details.

Shorten the program. Our Whole Lives for Older Adults consists of 14 two-hour workshops. We recommend condensing topics to shorten the time people must gather online. The suggestions below are for one-hour sessions. We recommend adding 10-15 minutes more if you add discussion questions from the Sexuality and Our Faith companion to your program.

Create a safety plan.  What is your plan if a participant appears troubled, distracted, or disengaged? The co-facilitator who isn’t leading a particular segment can privately message the participant to check in. (Note: This isn’t an option for participants under 18 in other programs, since adults should not have private communication with youth).

Emphasize group covenanting with participants and facilitators. Online gatherings need special guidelines to ensure privacy and confidentiality. Lead the group to covenant that they will respect a zone of privacy. This means they must each ensure, for example, that no one interrupts the participant during Our Whole Lives sessions, and no one will listen in from off camera or from behind closed doors. The covenant should include a prohibition against guests as well as cell phones, screen shots, and recording during sessions.

Focus on meaning making, not completing content. The goal of the adaptation should be to help participants explore their own sexual values, behaviors, identities, relationships, and more. If a discussion is very engaging, you may want to extend it rather than cutting off dialogue to move to another activity. You can fill in gaps by offering to provide links to videos and reading for at-home use (see the At-Home Sexuality Education Resources for Grades 7-Adult (PDF) at www.uua.org/re/owl/facilitators.

Keep the Question Box. Questions in Chat boxes are typically readable by all participants, but questions also can be submitted privately to the facilitators through the Chat feature. This allows people to ask questions without embarrassment. Demonstrate the process at the start of the first session.  At the start of subsequent meetings, remind participants how the online “Question Box” works and post, in the Chat, the instructions for writing only to facilitators. Include the facilitators’ names for reference.

Incorporate Sexuality and Our Faith. Use the rituals and discussion points offered in the companion resource to put the secular Our Whole Lives content into a UU and UCC faith context. 

Keep Things Lively and Participatory. Online, the adaptation will be discussion-based rather than activity-based. You will need to be intentional about pacing, vocal tone, and facilitator-switching to keep the session moving and participants active. Don’t allow a few people to dominate every conversation; invite specific individuals to offer perspectives if they have been quieter.

Use Zoom and Google Jamboard. Increase accessibility by using Zoom so participants have the option to turn on Live Transcript (closed captioning) during the live session. Do not record sessions because that could cause privacy concerns during discussions and chats. Google Jamboard is a free app that enables visual collaboration between users in real time. You can use it to create a virtual centering space/altar, or as a way to collect contributions of ideas, photos, lists, etc. 

Suggested Outline for an Adaptation

This outline suggests one-hour sessions that incorporate activities from Our Whole Lives Sexuality Education for Older Adults workshops. It avoids activities that require special materials and those which may be particularly sensitive.

Our Whole Lives for Older Adults has 14 workshops, but 15 adapted sessions are outlined below. This allows time for the foundational material in the in-person Workshop One to span two shorter, online sessions.

You may make other adaptations and incorporate other online tools. That’s fine! Just maintain the focus on helping participants process information and ideas through a lens of their life’s wisdom, personal and faith values, and the Our Whole Lives values of Self-Worth, Sexual Health, Responsibility, Justice, and Inclusivity.

If you can only offer a handful of topics, we suggest Workshop 2, Attitudes about Aging; Workshop 8, Family Matters; Workshop 11, Body Image; Workshop 12, Dating as an Older Adult; and Workshop 14, Sex Play Beyond Basics.

Session 1: What is Sexuality?

Preparation: Create slides to share the program topics you’ve chosen and the Our Whole Lives Values and Assumptions or create an email to send participants in advance. Prepare proposed covenant points as a slide or as text to share in the Chat. Prepare a slide with the Circles of Sexuality graphic (Workshop 1).

  • Facilitator introductions and quick lesson on Zoom microphone and camera muting/unmuting, the Chat, and hand raising features (5 mins)
  • Brief program overview (10 mins)
    Use slides to share the program topics you’ve chosen and the Our Whole Lives Values and Assumptions and/or refer to the email you have sent.
  • Group covenant creation and opening faith ritual (10 mins)
  • Circles of Sexuality (from Workshop 1) (25 mins)
  • Question Box (5 mins)
    Introduce Question Box via the Chat feature and invite questions sent directly to the co-facilitators.
  • Closing (5 mins)

Session 2: Sexuality and Values

Preparation: Plan to instruct participants on use of Zoom reaction buttons for the Sexuality Values activity.

  • Welcome and opening ritual (5 mins)
  • Question Box (10 mins)
    Spend 1 min. or less on each answer.
  • Review of Circles of Sexuality (5 mins)
  • Sexuality Values (from Workshop 1) (15 mins)
    Use Zoom reaction buttons or thumbs up/down hand signals. Invite unmuting for participants with visual challenges.
  • Discussion about the sources of sexual values (15 mins)
    Note: This is not found in the OWL curriculum. Lead a conversation using prompts such as: Role of parents? Friends? Race and culture? Faith? Life experiences? How might sexual values evolve over a lifetime? How might differences in sexual values affect relationships with friends, families, or partners?
  • Question Box (5 mins)
    Remind participants to send questions directly to facilitators.
  • Closing (5 mins)

Session 3: Attitudes about Aging

  • Welcome and opening ritual (5 mins)
  • Question Box (10 mins)
    Spend 1 min. or less on each answer.
  • Introducing the Issues (15 mins)
    Condensed from the in-person activity, minus sticky note activity and using a slide with the Circles of Sexuality model from Workshop 1.
  • Discussion based on points you share from the Sexuality Timelines or Reframing the Discourse activities, incorporating faith values as appropriate (20 mins)
  • Question Box (reminder to send questions directly to facilitators) (5 mins)
  • Closing (5 mins)
    Share a slide showing the film titles in the Becoming an Advocate activity.

Session 4: Examining Sexual Scripts

Preparation: Choose some points to share from the Introduction to Sexual Scripts and the Sexual Scripts and Relationships activities. Also, choose points to share from the Rewriting Sexual Scripts activity.

  • Welcome and opening ritual (5 mins)
  • Question Box (10 mins)
    Spend 1 min. or less on each answer.
  • Reading and processing (from the Reentry and Reading activity, including the introduction to the session topic) (10 mins)
  • Discussion based on points you share from the Introduction to Sexual Scripts and the Sexual Scripts and Relationships activities (20 mins)
  • Sexual Scripts (5 mins)
    Share points gleaned from the Rewriting Sexual Scripts activity; invite suggestions for other scripts that may need reassessment over the years (adult-child relationships, fitness goals, work-related identity, etc.
  • Question Box (5 mins)
    Remind participants to send questions directly to facilitators.
  • Closing (5 mins)

Session 5: The Sexual Body

Preparation: This workshop is less interactive than others. In advance, email the handouts to participants. Encourage them to try to identify all the structures in Handouts 5-6. Say that you will answer questions and introduce Handout 7 during the workshop.

  • Welcome and opening ritual (5 mins)
  • Question Box (10 mins)
    Spend 1 min. or less on each answer.
    Leave time to answer any questions about the anatomy handouts, using the facilitator resource as a guide.
  • Typical Age-Related Changes (15 mins)
    As part of the discussion, refer participants to healthcare providers to discuss any changes or concerns.
  • Sexual Response (15 mins)
    Here again, refer participants to healthcare providers to discuss any changes or concerns.
  • Non-Goal-Oriented Intimacy (5 mins)
    Introduce Handout 7, Wheel of Intimate Pleasures, and encourage participants to complete theirs after the session.
  • Question Box (5 mins)
    Remind participants to send questions directly to facilitators.
  • Closing (5 mins)

Session 6: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

NOTE: Avoid assuming everyone in your group is new to these concepts. They may be part of the LGBTQIA community or have loved ones who are.
Preparation: Email participants Handout 8, How to be a Strong Ally and Facilitator Resource 6, Sexual Orientation Definitions. Create slides to share the “Defining Terms” poster content.

  • Welcome and opening ritual (5 mins)
  • Question Box (10 mins)
    Spend 1 min. or less on each answer.  If there are no questions, ask how their experience was completing the Wheel of Intimate Pleasures from the last session (if you included it).
  • Readings (15 mins)
    Read each aloud and use the processing questions.
  • Defining Terms (15 mins)
    Replace posters with slides. Share and discuss the terms, lifting up the evolving nature of language and importance of using inclusive language; eliminate the Circles of Sexuality part of the activity.
  • Names and Pronouns Matter (5 mins)
    Eliminate the name tag activity; lift up major points related to the OWL value of justice and inclusivity as well as faith values related to honoring self-worth.
  • Question Box (5 mins)
    Remind participants to send questions directly to facilitators.
  • Closing (5 mins)

Session 7: Intimacy

Preparation: Create a Jamboard to use for the Assessing Intimate Relationships activity and the Building Healthy Relationships activity. Plan to demonstrate/instruct on use of the Jamboard.

  • Welcome and opening ritual (5 mins)
  • Question Box (10 mins)
    Spend 1 min. or less on each answer
  • Assessing Intimate Relationships (10 mins)
    Replace posters with a Jamboard created in advance. You will need to drop the link in the Chat and either demonstrate how to use the sticky note tool or assign one facilitator to be a sticky note scribe. Skip the reading and introduce the activity by explaining that intimate relationships needn’t be sexual or romantic – relationships with friends, relatives, and caregivers may also be intimate
  • Building Healthy Relationships (20 mins)
    Replace cards with notes on a Jamboard. Create several boards if you plan to break into small groups. Bring the groups together for processing. Use facilitator screensharing so everyone sees the Jamboards as they are discussed.
  • Everyday Intimacy (5 mins)
    Introduce the topic and invite people to type their suggestions into the Chat for a facilitator to read aloud.
  • Question Box (5 mins)
    Remind participants to send questions directly to facilitators.
  • Closing (5 mins)

Session 8: Consent and Boundaries

Preparation: Email participants in advance to explain that this session will emphasize the need for clear communication to help ensure that any sexual activity will be consensual and within agreed-upon boundaries. Encourage self-care if this is a sensitive topic for them.  Email participants Handout 11, Verbal Signs of Consent, and Handout 12, Invitations to Consent, for reference during the session.

  • Welcome and opening ritual (5 mins)
  • Question Box (10 mins)
    Spend 1 min. or less on each answer.
  • Consent and Boundaries Overview (10 mins)
  • Communicating Consent (15 mins)
  • Risk Factors for Communicating Consent (10 mins)
  • Question Box (5 mins)
    Remind participants to send questions directly to facilitators.
  • Closing (5 mins)

Session 9: Family Matters

Preparation: Decide which activities you will include. (Optional) Create a Jamboard to use for the Having “The Talk” with Adult Children activity.

  • Welcome and opening ritual (5 mins)
  • Question Box – Spend 1 min. or less on each answer (10 mins)
  • Having “The Talk” with Adult Children (10 mins)
    Consider using a Jamboard, inviting people to create sticky notes with answers, and processing them.
  • Establishing Boundaries (20 mins)
    Use screensharing with sound-sharing to show the recommended video before discussion and processing.
  • Option: Replace one of these activities with Your Role as a Sexuality Educator (20 mins)
  • Question Box (5 mins)
    Remind participants to send questions directly to facilitators.
  • Closing (5 mins)

Session 10: Sexuality and Loss

Note: This adaptation omits the most-sensitive Exploring Loss activity from the curriculum because your group won’t have adequate time to travel from personal loss to anticipated joy.

Preparation: (Optional) Create a Jamboard for the Naming Loss activity.

  • Welcome and opening ritual (5 mins)
  • Question Box (10 mins)
    Spend 1 min. or less on each answer.
  • Readings (10 mins)
    Read each selection aloud and encourage brief responses.
  • Naming Loss (5 mins)
    Introduce by saying that while the readings were about partner loss, older adults may experience many types of loss. You may want to use a Jamboard and sticky notes for this activity (5 mins)
  • Guided meditation (10 mins)
    Omit mention of the wood block activity.
  • Developing a Plan (10 mins)
  • Question Box (5 mins)
    Remind participants to send questions directly to facilitators.
  • Closing (5 mins)

Session 11: Reframing Sexuality, Disability, and Chronic Illness

Preparation: Email participants Facilitator Resource 13, Misconceptions and Truths about Disability and Sex; Handout 7, Wheel of Intimate Pleasures; and Handout 18, Lessons on Optimal Erotic Intimacy for pre-session reading.

  • Welcome and opening ritual (5 mins)
  • Question Box (10 mins)
    Spend 1 min. or less on each answer.
  • Introduce the topic with material from the introduction, and invite brief comments on Facilitator Resource 13. (10 mins)
  • Reframing Expectations (10 mins)
    Shorten the discussion time and incorporate Handout 7, Wheel of Intimate Pleasures, which was introduced in Session 5.
  • Addressing Challenges (15 mins)
  • Question Box (5 mins)
    Remind participants to send questions directly to facilitators.
  • Closing (5 mins)

Session 12: Body Image

Note: This adaptation omits several sensitive activities that benefit from more time than the session allows.

Preparation: Type the statement from Facilitator Resource 14 onto a slide or prepare to paste it into the Chat for the Affirming the Body activity.

  • Welcome and opening ritual (5 mins)
  • Question Box (10 mins)
    Spend 1 min. or less on each answer.
  • Read the opening reading aloud and use the processing questions. (10 mins) 
  • Body Image, Sexual Self-Efficacy, and Self-Esteem (10 mins)
    Define terms and invite brief discussion.
  • Affirming The Body (10 mins)
    Share a slide with the statement from Facilitator Resource 14 or drop the text into the Chat. Invite participants to complete the statement and send their response only to the co-facilitators, not to “Everyone.” Read the statements aloud, without names.
  • Body Affirming Ritual (5 mins)
  • Question Box (5 mins)
    Remind participants to send questions directly to facilitators.
  • Closing (5 mins)

Session 13: Dating as an Older Adult

Preparation: Visit this site and prepare to screen share or tell the group about tips offered on the site.

  • Welcome and opening ritual (5 mins)
  • Question Box (10 mins)
    Spend 1 min. or less on each answer.
  • Who Do You Seek? (10 mins)
    Convert this activity to a brief discussion of discerning which characteristics and values are essentials.
  • Crafting an Online Profile (10 mins)
    Introduce the topic. Invite people to share their profiles via email to session peers for feedback during the next week.
  • Managing Awkward Conversations (10 mins)
    Shorten and conduct as a large group activity.
  • Online Safety (5 mins)
    Share tips from this site: https://www.care.com/c/senior-dating-safety-online/.
  • Question Box (5 mins)
    Remind participants to send questions directly to facilitators.
  • Closing (5 mins)

Session 14: Safer Sex

Preparation: In advance, email participants Facilitator Resource 16, STIs and Treatments, and Handout 22, Six Basic Facts Older Adults Need to Know About Sexually Transmitted Infections. Ask them to read these before the session.

  • Welcome and opening ritual (5 mins)
  • Question Box (10 mins)
    Spend 1 min. or less on each answer.
  • Understanding the Issues (5 mins)
    Shorten and use as an introduction to the next segment.
  • Having “The Talk” (20 mins)
    Replace the paired activity by reading 2 scenarios aloud followed by discussion. Incorporate suggestions for risk-aware sexual activity.
  • Condom Demo and Barrier Show and Tell (10 mins)
    Emphasize the importance of the pre-assigned reading.
  • Question Box (5 mins)
    Remind participants to send questions directly to facilitators.
  • Closing (5 mins)

Session 15: Sex Play Beyond Basics

Preparation: Email participants Facilitator Resource 20, Sex Toy Statements; Handout 24, Sex Toy Basics; Handout 25, Sexuality Enhancement Resources; and Handout 26, BDSM Basics.

  • Welcome and opening ritual (5 mins)
  • Question Box (10 mins)
    Spend 1 min. or less on each answer.
  • Handouts (5 mins)
    Refer participants to the handouts you emailed. Answer any questions.
  • Fundamentals of Kink and BDSM (10 mins)
    Replace the poster-making activity with discussion of Handout 26.
  • Safety and Consent (20 mins)
  • Question Box (5 mins)
    Remind participants to send questions directly to facilitators.
  • Closing (5 mins)