We, UUA staff and Central East Regional (CER) staff, are committed to practices we know create safer youth communities and to continuing to evolve our practices to be ever safer. We know part of creating safety is working to ensure all stakeholders understand our philosophy and processes as well how to make reports, complaints, and appeals. Therefore this webpage outlines parts of CER youth program policies and procedures for youth, parents/guardians, adult participants, and congregational leaders.
If you are looking for a specific portion of the policy you can:
- Read the guiding philosophies
- Read the procedures for dealing with a report
- How to make a report, complaint or an appeal
Our Safety Policy states:
Relevant portions of our CER and UUA safety policy include:
“While sexuality is a healthy and important part of young people’s lives, there are times and places where sexual behaviors and sexual relationships are inappropriate, including at UUA events. The UUA’s youth programs affirm the Our Whole Lives values of self-worth, sexual health, responsibility, justice and inclusivity.
Sexual behavior includes, but is not limited to: open mouth or prolonged kissing, touching of genitals, buttocks, breasts, and nipples, and any touch meant to arouse the other person. This includes sexualized public displays of affection, nudity of any kind, and clothing that would not be considered appropriate for public spaces (ie, underwear, see through clothing). It also includes inappropriate use of social media including but not limited to sexting, snapchat, facebook, twitter and tumblr postings of sexualized photos, sexualized games, persons undressing or in sexualized poses, or bullying of any kind.”
“We assume that gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, and questioning youth are always a part of our programming. We know that one of the reasons youth and their families join Unitarian Universalist communities is to find a safe community that accepts gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth. We also know that many teens, regardless of identity, experiment with same-sex sexual behaviors. Therefore it is never appropriate to assume heterosexuality or gender conformity among youth. Segregating youth by sex and/or gender does not preclude sexual experimentation or sexual behaviors.”
“Sexual behavior is not appropriate at UUA youth events. Youth have a right to consensual, non-sexual platonic touch such as hugging, leaning on a friend, putting an arm around a friend, or shoulder massages. All participants must respect each other’s physical boundaries. We expect participants to use the practice of obtaining clear verbal consent in relation to non-sexual touch. This includes including hugging, hand holding, group physical games, touching hair, and other touch. Since such consent can only be given and received awake, such touch can only happen while youth are awake. Our value of consent and self-determination extends to any situation where a participant can expect a right to control their own body including consenting to photographs.
Nonconsensual sexual contact or sexual conduct and sexual harassment (as defined below) are violations of the law and of the policies which participants agree to follow for UUA events. In addition to being subject to legal penalties, consequences may include being expelled from an event, banned from future UUA events.”
“Any harassment regarding race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or disability will not be tolerated. Such harassment includes unsolicited remarks, gestures or physical contact, display or circulation of written or online materials or derogatory pictures directed at any of these categories. In addition, sexual advances, jokes, explicit or offensive pictures, videos or other online content, requests for sexual favors, sexting, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment.”
“Some forms of consensual sexual behavior violate the law and will need to be reported to child protective services. These include, but are not limited to: sexting (sending nude images via text message) and sexual conduct between youth significantly apart in age (generally more than four years apart) or under age (varies by state).”
“While the laws in each state vary, the UUA expects all participants act as “mandated reporters” within our organization. Any volunteer or leader, youth or adult, must report to the UUA staff responsible for an event anything that constitutes harm or potential harm to a minor (“harm to self or others”) immediately and no later than 8 hours after becoming aware of an incident, regardless of whether the particular report would constitute a mandated report in the state in which it occurs. UUA staff responsible for the event are responsible for determining whether a legal report should be made in each circumstance and making that report in the legally mandated time frame.”
“The UUA reserves the right to restrict or remove, temporarily or permanently, any adult from contact with youth at UUA events if that adult worker is no longer a suitable person for working with youth. These reasons could include arrests or convictions for violent actions; inappropriate social, emotional, sexual, or physical boundaries with youth; inability to be responsibly present including due to physical or mental illness, or substance use including prescribed medication; any violation of the Adult Code of Conduct or Code of Ethics for Adults and Youth in Leadership; or any other action that causes significant distress to youth or cause UUA staff to be concerned about the safety of the adult with youth.”