When You Can’t Do OWL-Do This!

Updated 02/2021*

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-2/justice-local-church-ministries/justice/health-and-wholeness-advocacy-ministries/our-whole-lives/

PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS AS SEXUALITY EDUCATORS

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:

Note: UCC Adaptation is under way and will be available later this year.

Ideas for activities and conversations to have by age:

WINTER 2021

  • 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
      • Family (Love Is Love) song – Teeny Tiny Stevies: www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-bEGnbeHUQ
    • 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.
  • Grades 4-6:
    • At home, spend some time with at least one adult in your family. (You could also do this with more than one adult and other siblings.) Take turns answering the following questions:
      • The part of my personality I like the best is . . .
      • Something that I do well or that makes me unique is . . .
      • Do you see each other the same way? Are there other special talents or things that make you each unique that you had not thought of?
    • Discuss the following questions together:
      • Do you use the Internet? What for? How often? Where do you use it?
      • If so, what sites do you go to for fun or socializing?
      • Which devices do you use to go online (computer, tablet, phone)?
      • What kinds of messages do you see about gender, stereotypes, and prejudice when you are online?
  • Watch a show or movie together and discuss these questions:
    • Which of these types of relationships were depicted in this movie:
      • No relationships
      • Friends
      • Enemies
      • Parent and child
      • Teacher and child
      • Romantic relationship
      • Relationships among adults
      • Relationships among children
      • Other: __________________
    • Are the relationships generally healthy or unhealthy? In a healthy relationship, each person is treated fairly and with respect, and they communicate effectively.
    • Did you find anyone whose gender was unclear? If so, how were they treated?
    • Were there people of different races? Were they treated differently because of their race? If so, how?
    • How are women and girls treated?
    • How are men and boys treated?
    • How are people treated if they don’t fit what society says is appropriate for women and girls? Men and boys? People of another gender?
    • How similar to real life is this example?
  • Grades 7-9 “Taking Flight” parameters/guidelines:

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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Grades 10-12: The 2nd Edition of this material is being developmentally edited and we are hopeful it will be published in 2021. In the meantime, please refer to the websites in the above material for Grades 7-9, and consider having regular meeting times to answer questions.
  • All adult levels: consider focusing on anti-racism work, and the intersections between racism and sexuality education.