New address: 24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210-1409.
Presenter: Rev. Dr. Debra Haffner
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) can be proud of its leadership in sexual justice. We trace the key landmarks in the UUA’s work from About Your Sexuality (AYS) to Our Whole Lives (OWL), from pre-Roe to reproductive justice, and from the first openly gay minister to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) full inclusion, and share recommendations for our future.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: And thank you all for coming to this. I feel like on the airplane when they say, I know you have many choices and we're glad you're flying us today. So I didn't know whether there'd be six people in here or not. I kind of figured I might have some ministerial candidates here. Do I? OK. Because you're going to put this on your applications, right? So thank you all for choosing to come and talk with me about this.
I want to do a disclaimer to start, which is those of you who know me know that I am a ordained minister and I am a certified sexuality educator. I am not a historian and I actually found working on this a little challenging because in fact it is not my training. But I also founded it fascinating to see how over the last 50 years our positions on these issues have evolved. And so I look forward to sharing with you where we have come from and ending with where I think we need to be going, because although we have much to be proud of we are not yet done.
How many of you know the Religious Institute? OK. So quite a few of you. We were formed 10 years ago this spring to bring a progressive religious voice on sexual justice to faith communities but also to society as a whole. Right now we have more than 5,200 religious leaders who are part of our network and some 5,000 who are part of our grassroots effort.
If you are saying, I don't know if I know you, in particular if you're wondering whether those are the religious leaders. If you're asking yourself have I ever endorsed anything for the Religious Institute? You would have gotten an email from me this morning with our latest newsletter. That would be a good check.
We have two ways of joining with us. One is those of you who are clergy, religious educators, academicians, theologians, or staff at religious institutions can endorse our religious declaration on sexual morality, justice, and healing. But as a result of feedback we received over the last several years we have now created something called the Faithful Voices Network, which is moving our work from, we say, the pulpit into the pews. And Michael Cobb—where are you?—in the back is directing this effort for the Religious Institute.
And we would love to invite you to join. Joining means that you sign a pledge that says as a person of faith you support sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and society. And I just happen to have sign up sheets, so I'm going to pass them out, and if you would just pass them to the back of the room, and I'll ask for them at the end. No pressure, of course, but we are trying to get to 10,000 people by the end of this year, so I'm hoping that as Unitarian Universalists we can count on you.
So if we look at our history on sexual justice since we began in 1961 we have passed 89 resolutions and statements of witness on sexual justice issues. More statements on sexual justice than on any other single area. as you will see from my presentation, they mirror the political activities of the time. If there was something going on in the culture you all responded. In many ways we've led the culture on these issues. So our statements have been more prophetic and ahead of their time and in many ways, but I will point out the areas where that's not true, we have led other religious denominations.
We have seen as a result of these policies dramatic changes in Unitarian Universalist programming over the last 40 and 50 years. And I want you to know that we still have a ways to go. We like, I think, to pat ourselves on the back about how forward thinking we are, and yet they are still areas where, as I will talk about towards the end, I want to challenge you to think about what you can do in your own communities.
So let's start with women. In 1970 we passed a resolution on equal rights and opportunities, which was then, had a follow up resolution that said that women and racial minorities should get equal opportunity in employment. So that was only 12 years after our founding. In 1975 women represented only 5% of our clergy. So 35 years later what do you think the number is?
SPEAKER 1: 55.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: OK. So the answer is is right now it's 56%. We have more women clergy than any other denomination.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Were any of you here in 1977? Some of you were born in 1977, right? Yeah, these people—or after. So in 1977 a historic event was the passing of this women and religion business resolution, which called on us to examine where our own religious beliefs—to stop using sexist language. I love this little evangelical idea which is we thought we were so ahead of our times we're going to send our resolution to other denominations and tell them what they should do. We are going to join with others to examine the relationship and then we were going to send out materials. So this was what was passed in 1977.
In 1978 was the first gathering of women ministers in our association. Were any of you at that? OK. So I'm going to invite you during the comments, those of you who were part of this history, to come and maybe tell us a little bit about this. There's an article in this month's World Magazine, Reverend Carolyn Owen-Towle who was, I believe, the first woman to run for president of the UUA—
SPEAKER 2: Second.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Second. OK.
SPEAKER 2: First clergy woman.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: First clergy woman, thank you. Who was the first woman?
SPEAKER 2: [INAUDIBLE]
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Thank you. See, this is why I need you all. Said the ministry was still a men's club in those years, and calling a woman was still an experiment in bravery.
Now what was interesting in reading—and again some of you could fill this in when we get to comments—is that in fact the sense I had reading the documents is between '77 and 1980 not a lot really happened. So in '80, women brought forward a resolution that asked the General Assembly to commit to what they had done three years earlier. At GA in Albuquerque there was a program on women's roles in UU congregation. And you can see, starting with Kay Montgomery who is entering I believe her 29th or 30th year as our executive vice president, we have had a series of women moderators. In fact we have only had women moderators. What was fascinating last night, though, did you see the picture of the presidents of the UUA? What did you notice?
So we still have a glass ceiling. A glass ceiling that has been broken in five other denominations. There are five US denominations that have now been headed by women. And so interesting that the volunteer position, right, has been a woman for the last 30 years or so. Still have a little ways to go.
On abortion rights we had a early, committed history. So in 1963, two years after merger, we passed a resolution calling for the reform of—that should not say abortion statistics, it should say abortion statutes. That's where you hit spell check and it tells you everything's spelled right. Sorry. Statutes. In 1968 we called for the abolishment of abortion laws. And then you all know that the New York law changed, 1973 was Roe v. Wade. Interestingly the '73 resolution was not in support of Roe, but actually was a response to that outcry against Roe. Dwayne?
SPEAKER 3: Yeah, I put in a historical footnote. In 1971 or 2 the Dallas Women's Alliance was studying abortion rights. They invited a young attorney, Linda Coffee, to speak to them. [UNINTELLIGIBLE PHRASE]. Sarah Weddington. Wade was the district attorney in—
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Great.
SPEAKER 3: --Dallas then, so that—
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: And that's part of our—so that's part of the UU history.
SPEAKER 3: That's part of the UU history.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Great. Love that. Yeah. Well, what he said was that in fact—what year, Dwayne?
SPEAKER 3: '71 or 2.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: So '71, '72, in Texas our association invited the district attorney in Texas, who then invited Sarah Weddington to come meet with them. Sarah Weddington, as you probably know, was the woman who was the attorney who argued the Supreme Court case. Roe v. Wade originated in Texas so great to know.
In '77, you may remember that's when the Hyde Amendment was passed. That was when the Supreme Court decided the Hyde Amendment was constitutional. And Jimmy Carter famously said, in response to removing Medicaid funding for abortion, sometimes life is unfair. And so there we were at General Assembly, and we put together a resolution in response to the denial of Medicaid funds. 1978 we reaffirmed our support for contraception and abortion.
1985 we did a resolution on abortion clinic bombings. I was actually at a Planned Parenthood that was bombed that previous year and so I remember, although I was not yet a UU, how important it was for those of us were providers to know that this denomination had stood up against violence. Again in '87 we spoke out against the gag rule. We passed a resolution in 1996 in advance of the International Conference on Population and Development. John Buehrens as president participated in the colloquium that developed the religious declaration, the declaration that's the basis of my organization.
I want you to note the last time we did this, then, was 15 years ago. I think it's probably time for a new reproductive justice resolution.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: The only thing that has happened this past year, you all I'm sure followed the news, where in fact funding for Planned Parenthood almost brought the United States government to a complete standstill. And we were able to have the Washington office put out a press release in support of Planned Parenthood and Title X. But I think that the issues have re-risen to the fore, and we need to be thinking about how to do this.
OK. Sexuality education. I was disappointed last night that in the review of highlights nobody mentioned the Our Whole Lives and About Your Sexuality program. Did anybody else notice? I think one of the things we can be most proud of is our leadership in sexuality education.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Yes. Absolutely. Interestingly for me although I did not become a UU, I loved the little girl last night who said we are bringing people into the church.
And that indeed was my story. My daughter was three, we were looking for a religious home. One of my friends said, come to my Unitarian church but you have to come twice, because some weekends are not as good as others. Fortunately I went on a Mother's Day and they were playing lesbian music and Bill Murray preached about Gaia the earth mother so I was like hooked immediately. I'd like to say it took my husband a few more weeks to get into it.
But what's interesting in sexuality education, Deryck Calderwood worked for SIECUS, the Sex Information and Education Council of the US, as its program director. In fall [UNINTELLIGIBLE] in 1967 they brought Deryck to present a workshop called Developing Sexual Sensitivity. And it was the beginning of their call for sexuality education.
I've learned a lot about this. Sarah Gibb is here. In the comments I'll ask you to also participate. Sarah did her dissertation on the history of OWL and early AYS and was one of the people who helped author it. In '70 we published—AYS. How many of you took AYS? Or how many you taught AYS? Even better. OK.
So that was our initial program. It was originally called Living Our Sexuality and it was actually patterned after many religious curriculum at the time. So it had a teacher booklet, a student workbook, and then those infamous film strips. No, they were not slides. It started—because I remember seeing them early on in my career. It was literally one of those things that you put in that machine.
One of the really great things that has happened in the last year is they moved from film strips to slides. We have finally gotten those slides onto a DVD. I'm sure some of you've had the same experiences I've had in the last 10 years of having to say, there is no such thing as a bulb for a slide projector anymore, right? So the DVD was good.
The initial topics I think are interesting. Birth control. Femininity and masculinity. What would we call that today? Gender identity or gender roles. Lovemaking. I love this. Making out. I've also been interested for actually the last 20 years in the fact that we teach actually intercourse before we teach kissing. I think that's a mistake.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Anatomy. Masturbation. Same sex sexual relationships. Conception and childbirth. And what was then called venereal disease, which is now called STIs. Yeah, right. The interim was they were STDs, we now call them sexually transmitted infections.
And then they felt, for some reason, that in 1972 they had not done a good enough job. So I don't know, same sex relationships may have been about friendships, in fact. It was. It was about friendship, it was not what we think of, then. And they wrote a piece on Homosexual Lifestyles. That was the title. So we too have evolved in our understandings. And so the AYS program was groundbreaking. It was also controversial. The film strips were controversial then. In fact, SIECUS took a position against the film strips, when they first came out, that they were not developmentally appropriate because they were showing explicit sexual materials.
Before we got up to OWL, some of you may remember in the '80s or late '80s and mid '90s, showing these very 1970 slides of basically hippies making love. And kids used to always laugh, right, because there would be like—
In 1992 the UUA, along with the United Church of Christ—who really is the other denomination I want to hold up as being in the front forefront of sexual justice—began planning for a new lifespan curriculum, moving us from a middle school program to a comprehensive program starting in kindergarten and going through adulthood. In 1994 we did pass a call for sexuality education in the public schools, in response to the emerging abstinence only program.
We also did another Action of Immediate Witness which was to support what was then called the REAL Act. You may or may not know that we have just had the first federal sexuality education programs passed and funded in 2010. There's now a $114 million going to states for comprehensive sexuality education and $75 million going to state and private entities.
We did, just as an aside, we buried abstinence only, only to see it resurrected. I mean, literally it came back from the dead in health care reform as part of a swap. So abstinence only is still in existence. And 2/3 of the states have applied for both comprehensive money and abstinence only money. So again, still a ways to go.
OWL, as you probably know, is now available at six age levels. There are some issues related to OWL. It has not been substantively revised since it was published. We did update the statistics in 2005, but there is in process now the beginning of a junior high revision. One of the exciting things that I'm part of with my parent organization, the Christian Community, is there's going to actually be a scientific, longitudinal, long term evaluation of OWL. The results will be published in 2013. We will finally be able to document—
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: I believe any of us who have ever taught this program knows, which is that we change young people's lives with it. But we've never had data. I'm fascinated, as someone who has taught OWL several times, how many times people come back from college and thank me for what I did to them in the 8th grade. Yeah, right? And so I'm really excited that we're actually going to have some national results.
Our reach with OWL, interestingly, is that we by and large are still in that middle school model. So one of the challenges for you, you can see that 66% of our congregations are offering middle school OWL, 42% are doing high school. Very few are doing the K 2nd program. How many of you have taught K-2? So a number of you. So I love K-2. I think it's just the most wonderful thing. Congregations are afraid of it because they think we're teaching about intercourse and contraception in kindergarten. I would love to see more of us doing that.
And you can see that the excellent young adult program that Sarah wrote is hardly being used at all yet. And I understand from feedback I got the other day when I presented this, that in fact there's an issue related to training of people, and so that's another area.
OK, so moving from sexuality education to full inclusion. I found this fascinating. There was a study that in 1967 88% of UUs think that homosexuality should be discouraged either by law or education. Now the great thing about that data is it gives me hope for the Southern Baptists and the Methodists.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Right? I mean, because this is only—this is 40 years ago. And that was us. If you did that, if you picked, if we asked that now, right? I mean I don't know—I'm willing to put myself out there and say we'd have 99% of us believe that in fact sexual orientation and diversity is a blessed part of our inheritance. So—Sarah, did you have a—
SARAH GIBB: I look at that study and it was part of a study that you used, and it basically asked, like, how do you think homosexuality should be deterred? By like, punishment or [INAUDIBLE]? So it was kind of a loaded question.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: But nevertheless—so somebody said if you were at the last session, we reflect the culture we're in, and in fact the world was understanding in a different way. In 1969 when Reverend James Stoll came out, it was kind of to contextualize it more broadly, it was kind of like when Ellen came out. I mean it was one of those things where in fact there was great shock that somebody would do this. I've only read a little bit about him. What I understand is he was unable to find a pulpit after this.
So again, just as proud as we are about where we are now, we have come this way in this process. It was not until 1979 that Douglas Morgan Strong, an out gay minister, was called to serve a church. So again relatively recent history for us. It was not until 2002 that our first transgendered minister was called to serve a church. And I am fairly certain that he is the only transgendered person who's been a senior minister in a pulpit.
A survey I did last year found—so if you compare this to the first data, that 24% of our ministers now publicly identify as either LGBTQ or I. So again, dramatic change in what truly I think historically is a very short period of time.
So how did we get there? How did we get from 88% to—and part of it was what we were doing. 1968. By 1970 we had passed our first resolution against discrimination against homosexual and bisexuals. And I have heard that we were the first denomination to do that. If that's true the UCC did it like that next year. We developed an adult curriculum called the Invisible Minority and our office of what was then called Gay Concerns was called for in '73 and established and given a staff person in 1974.
This is an example of where if it's going on in the culture we're responding. So those of you, remember Anita Bryant? Do you all know who that was? Anita Bryant? No. So Anita Bryant was a singer. She was best known for the fact that she promoted orange juice, right. So she was—
SPEAKER 4: [INAUDIBLE]
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: What?
SPEAKER 4: Florida.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Florida orange juice. Thank you. And so she was all over TV commercials being a spokesperson for Florida orange juice. And she launched a campaign against gay rights.
Our statement there I think is such a beautiful statement that I can see we could all use it now which is—and in fact we could be using it in New York today. Human rights are not an issue on where there should be a vote by which the majority can deny the rights to a minority. Fundamental kind of understanding. And I actually was kind of hoping I'd go on my BlackBerry like 10 minutes before we started today, and I could report that we had won in New York but it hasn't happened yet. I do think those legislators want to go home, right? So like let's get this to a vote.
In 1989 we voted to initiate the first Welcoming Congregation Program. And it only took us a year to develop the handbook.
In '93 we talked about accepting gays and lesbians into the military. In '96 we changed the name of the office. So it was no longer the Office of Gay Concerns, but in fact transgender came into it. Now interestingly, as I'm going to show you in a second, we actually did not pass a transgender resolution until 2007. And in that we definitely lagged behind the United Church of Christ, who had done it almost a decade earlier.
In 1997, again in response to the culture, the Southern Baptists had called for a boycott of Disneyland and Disney World. And so we that year in fact encouraged you all to go to Disneyland and Disney World.
We updated the Welcoming Congregation handbook. It was republished in 1999. Much to my surprise it has not been updated since. So one of our clear needs, I mean, if you think about your own personal understanding of LGBTQ issues in the last 11 years? I mean we know so much more than we knew 11 years ago. And so clearly that's a priority. Yes ma'am?
SPEAKER 5: [INAUDIBLE]
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Thank you. Thank you. Because Disney—the question was, why did Southern Baptists decide to boycott Disneyland? It was because they had taken a position on offering equal employment rights to gay people. And what?
SPEAKER 6: [INAUDIBLE]
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Oh, and they were hosting gay days. So whatever else you think about Disney, good for Disney on that.
In 1999 we took, I think, a really prophetic strong voice, which is we stood up to the Boy Scouts of America. And John Buehrens really was the leader in this. There was a Boy Scout badge that—you may not know. There's a Boy Scout badge called the Religion in Life program. Boy Scouts give the ability to denominations to issue their own emblem. That was what ours looked like for kids who took scouting in our churches. We were told because we did not require our kids to take the oath to God and we in fact allowed gay people to both be Boy Scout leaders as well as participants, that they rescinded our right to do this.
So we passed a resolution to change the discriminatory policies of the Boy Scouts. And actually you may know we have created an alternative called the Navigator Program, so that our boys can still be part of scouting, but we are not—And we give a Religion in Life emblem, but not sanctioned. John Buehrens, though—I love this line, the Boy Scouts cannot have it both ways. If they are allowed to discriminate, then it is time to end their access to public facilities such as public schools and to consider revoking their Congressional charter.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: This is not a dead issue. OK? This is an ongoing issue with the Boy Scouts of America.
Recently in full inclusion, in 2007 when we were in Florida, and—Manish, are you still here? Did you leave? He came to show me his baby pictures. He was one of the ministers down there. You may remember in Largo there was this city manager who was transitioning and then did transition and got fired. And so we passed a resolution on that. We passed an immediate resolution on repealing Don't ask, don't tell. We passed a request for a trans-inclusive [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. And it was not until last year that we actually put together a resolution bringing sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination together.
Most recently TRUUST was formed, our Trans Religious professional UUs working Together.
Standing on the Side of Love, which I completely support. My concern about Standing on the Side of Love, though, is that it took a broad-based commitment to sexual justice issues from the DC office, Standing on the Side of Love officially only deals with LGBT. It does not deal with sexuality education or reproductive justice. Any help from you all to help me bring our voices to have that happen and become part of the rubric on Standing on the Side of Love I think is really important.
On marriage equality, clearly—I'm sure most of you know about the fact that we have been long leaders, we've been doing services of union officially since 1984. I know some of you probably were doing them before 1984. We endorsed marriage equality in '96. We opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004. There was a period of time where we actually had a huge banner on headquarters—And we are, those of you who've not been to Boston, we are right next to the State House, so it was to really make a statement. And we held, almost as soon as was possible, the first legal same sex marriage at UUA headquarters. Which the following year we then did a first anniversary celebration for Massachusetts couples at headquarters.
OK. So where are we now? So that's a little bit of where we have been. Many of you know that I completed a study a year ago of UUA as a sexually healthy and responsible denomination. I looked at more than 40 documents. I interviewed more than 20 staff people. We looked at every copy of the World for the last three years, every copy of the World online, all the GA program books. I have to say I'm a little distressed in the last several years I pointed out that at GA under sexuality the only people, only workshops were mine. And sometimes LGBT, it is actually, I am still the only sexuality named workshop. There are others going on, but I think we could be doing more there. I do not believe, someone correct me, that there is a sexuality education workshop at this GA.
So again, areas for us to be looking at. We did an electronic survey of all of our ministers and got a 41% response rate. I also this January completed a survey of the district executives and the district program staff. So I'm going to talk a little bit about what I found where we are now.
This is based on a concept that I've been developing actually since 1991 that starts with what's a sexually healthy adult, that leads to what's a sexually healthy religious professional, that led to what's a sexually healthy congregation, which led to what's a sexually healthy seminary and is now my work on what's a sexually healthy and responsible denomination. And so we say that a sexually healthy and responsible denomination would have policies, procedures, and bylaws that support sexual health. Full inclusion of women. Full inclusion of LGBTQI folks. A commitment to sexually healthy religious professionals, both in preparation and in continuing education. Sexually healthy congregation programs and policies. Lifespan sexuality education. A commitment to sexual abuse and harassment prevention. And prophetic witness for sexual justice.
So without my having even done the study, you can kind of look at this and go OK, so good on women, right? Good on LG. We have not been nearly as good on Bs and Ts, and we have almost nothing on Qs and Is. I'm going to talk about sexually healthy religious professionals in a minute. We have a lifespan sexuality education program. And we have, as you have seen, been quite out there in terms of prophetic witness. Several of these other areas we have not done as well on, and in particular my area of greatest concern at the moment is our commitment to sexual abuse harassment and misconduct prevention.
My top denomination findings after having read all this is, as I said, I could have done the left side without having spent the time on this study. I am trying to have the board of trustees understand that our commitment to nondiscrimination in our bylaws needs to be changed to a commitment to full inclusion. Nondiscrimination means that we abide by the law. A commitment to full inclusion means we have a cultural commitment to the full inclusion of all people. Thank you. I thought that was a no-brainer. What I discovered was that it's bylaw C-2.3. We have this very Byzantine thing. Those bylaws actually can't be changed except through a very long multi-year process. I have been told that that process will happen over time, but again your support would be important.
OWL, which had been a very strong program in terms of dollar commitment, as of last year we only had a 10 hour a week person working on OWL. We now have a half-time person working on OWL. I think we need to make some re-commitment to that program. We need to recommit to our full inclusion, that Welcoming handbook needs to be updated. As I mentioned, I have concerns that sexual justice is not broadly included in Standing on the Side of Love.
One of my biggest concerns is our codes of conduct for our religious professionals, most notably our ministers, are weaker than every other Protestant and Jewish denomination. I mean, it is really—We have a code of conduct for the ministers that at the moment allows single ministers to engage in romantic or sexual relationships with congregants if they carefully examine the potential impact on their ministry and if they consult with a colleague.
We have just taken a step forward. This year at the UUMA as a result of work many, many people have been doing for a long time and a little bit of a push from me, the UUMA exec has recommended and the UUMA adopted a year of study for a revision. So that code, which is actually quite long now, we are proposing a 19 word substitution. The 19 words say, I will not engage in sexualized behavior, sexual contact, or a sexual relationship with any person I serve professionally. That would bring us into—
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Where we need to be. And so that will be an ongoing process that you'll be hearing more about.
The other area though, very related, is that when it comes to safe congregation policies, although we have had a Safe Congregations Handbook, in 2005 I wrote a book on protecting children and ministering to sex offenders. Only 30% of our congregations have a written safe congregations policy. And of those that do, only half make it available to their members on their web sites or in membership packets. How many of you are in congregations that have safe congregation policies? OK. And how many don't know? OK. And how many of you know you don't? OK. So this is an area that we are actually looking at at the Religious Institute, working with the UUA on creating a credentialing program similar to the Welcoming Congregation program, so we'll outline the ten things you need to have in place. And once you get them in place you'll got a little seal and you can put that on your web site and you can proudly announce that you are a place that is safe from abuse, harassment, and misconduct. Or at least you have the policies in place if something happens.
So what's changed so far as a result of my report? I'm really actually proud to tell you that quite a bit has changed. We've revised the HR policies for the UUA so they are now gold standard on sexuality issues. I've conducted the first sexual harassment training to UUA staff. Interestingly, when I did that about 30 people came. When I asked them what would happen to make the UUA a safer place to work what I was told was, get the people who didn't come to this voluntary training. So in fact the Leadership Council has now voted, and in October I will do a required training for every staff person—
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: And all new supervisors will be required to take a training. So that's happening.
There are new guidelines for youth events around sexual contact. What we had said previously was we did not want you to have intercourse at our cons, GAs, et cetera. So that is a much stronger statement. And you can actually Google that and it's up on the web site.
As I mentioned there's been a UUMA Presidential Task Force. We revised the code of ethics for adults working with youth. You may have noticed, I pointed out to the media staff that only 3% of the articles in the World or the World online in the last four years had dealt with a sexuality topic. They didn't believe me, so we kind of sat down and went through it. And there has now been much more increased attention, so if someone from the World or that office is here, thank you for that.
And I am really proud of this, which is for the very first time ever there was a sexual harassment and misconduct policy in your program book. So that in fact we had never mentioned that it was not OK to come to GA and harass or abuse or engage in misconduct. As well as the process that the chaplains have so. That's now in the front of your books.
We have passed, we became the first denomination in America to require a competency for all ministerial candidates in sexual health, sexual boundaries, and sexual justice. Including a requirement that every candidate must have a sexual misconduct and/or harassment prevention learning experience. The preference is a sexual misconduct prevention, there are people who don't have access to it, so we wanted to make sure that there was a way that everybody could have it. The only other course the MFC requires is one on Bible and New Testament, on Hebrew Bible and New Testament. So in fact this was a really huge step for us. So every candidate, starting in 2010, will have had this training.
What's coming? In terms of the work we're doing, we are developing an online congregational assessment tool so that in your congregations you will actually be able to look at how are you doing in all these areas. How close are you to a sexually healthy and responsible congregation? What else might you consider?
We are finishing up a new online course for all UU religious professionals in sexuality issues. To the candidates in the room, if you have not been able to take an in-person course, in October you will get an announcement that this course is now available to you. I want to tell you as somebody who—I'm the co-author on this. It's still better if you could take an in-person course, but if you truly cannot I think this will at least provide you with the foundation that you need.
We're going to be doing this required misconduct training. I'm going to be working with Richard Nugent. We have an HR policy that goes out to congregations as a template that is not as good as our headquarters policy. So we will be changing that. Hopefully we'll be updating the Welcoming Congregations handbook. There's been a staffing issue there. I will be working with both the UUMA and [? LREDA ?] on their own misconduct prevention.
And one of my dreams is one of things that happens—and I'm looking at a couple of my colleagues who are here who are sexologists—is to create a directory of Unitarian Universalist sexologists and sexual experts that could be available around the country for the districts to use and for congregations to know who in their area they could call on when they need sexuality expertise. And so I hope that we'll be able to work on that in the next year.
OK. So that's what I have to present. Now I want to hear from you. Comments, questions. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: The man in the back is going, mike, mike. So you need to come up to the mike. And what I would ask is, try to, you don't have to ask me a question, you can make a comment, but keep them brief recognizing that there's now a line behind you.
JIM GUNNING: That's a great presentation.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Thank you.
JIM GUNNING: Thank you very much. Very good. Complete. Almost complete. I'd just like to add one thought.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Please.
JIM GUNNING: And this is what the UUA has done in the corporate world, socially responsible investing under Denny Davidoff's leadership in the late '90s. I'm Jim Gunning. I was a founding member of the new UUA committee, new in the 1990s, about corporate responsibility. And one of the things we've done is gone after corporations to change their employment policies to include in the legal terminology nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation. And the success ratio, not just us, there's a lot of other folks doing this too, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, includes the UCC, and you'd be surprised. Catholic hospitals have their employment and they need to respond to the unions and they're pushing this too. New York City Pension Fund is pushing this.
And now we left out the transgender the first time around, thinking that we'd do better jobs with a corporation—and by the way, 99% of the large corporations, the Fortune 100, one holdout. A number of other smaller corporations are doing that. I was down at—the largest employer in the world, you know, is Walmart. And we have done that in Walmart. I was down at their annual meeting a couple years ago.
JIM GUNNING: We are still working on transgender. Julie Skye was down there earlier this month, working on the transgender part of it.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Great. Thank you. Another thing to be proud of. And why don't you introduce yourself when you come up, tell us who you are and where you're from.
JUDY WILSON: OK. I'm Judy Wilson from Devon, Pennsylvania, Main Line Unitarian Church. I'm not close—OK. All right. Judy Wilson from Main Line Unitarian Church in Devon, Pennsylvania. I'm concerned about sexual justice. In addition to the 2011 press release supporting Planned Parenthood, this has become a really hot issue again. And I was wondering what else the Unitarians are doing about this because it really—we could lose the right to choose very easily right now.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: You bet. The answer is, is that we have not had a person who's a justice and witness minister for quite some time now. I've been told that somebody is hired and starting August 1 and you can bet that it will be very high on my agenda to meet with that person on those issues.
BENITA BERKSON: Yes. I'm Benita Berkson from San Diego. Your statistics are very good. One statistic that you didn't include that is near and dear to my heart is in looking at how many called lesbian ministers we have. Do you have any statistic that shows the difference between the number of lesbian ministers that are out there and the number that have actually been called?
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: I don't. I could get you the number of lesbian ministers, what percentage of ministers we have who are lesbian. I can tell you as a member of the MFC that we are credentialing lots and lots of women who love women. I can't tell you is there a disconnect between numbers and hiring. I have a lot of lesbian colleagues who I know are serving churches, but that's as good as I might do.
BENITA BERKSON: My personal experience, because I have a dog in this race. My daughter is a lesbian minister.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: And has had trouble finding a pulpit.
BENITA BERKSON: And there's lots of places, but not called places. And I think that's really significant.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: It would be good to look at. Thank you. And that's certainly an area when it comes to either out bisexual ministers as well as transgender ministers, there are people who have had a hard time for placement. So yes, we'll look at it. Thank you. Hi.
PAM: Hi. I'm Pam. I'm a student. I grew up in the Chelmsford Church, in Massachusetts, and I'm now at the Atlanta church. I just wanted to speak as somebody who is kind of between OWL and AYS and as a young, younger person but a mom. I want to say something to—and as an RE person. I think it's really, really important that we look at, like you said, the pre-K and up program. As well as even younger than that, just being, like you said, not for sexual reproductive reasons, but just I think it's really important that it start that early.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: So I'll quickly respond to that, which is with a shameless plug, which is that I've written a book called From Diapers to Dating: Raising Sexually Healthy Children from Birth to Age 12, and I know a lot of our congregations are using it with parents. And I think that that's really the approach when we're looking at the zero to four, the approach is how do we educate new parents so that in fact in the ongoing opportunities for teachable moments that we have, we're laying a foundation.
PAM: Awesome. My three year old will proudly tell anybody that his mom has a baby in his uterus.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Good. Thank you. Chip?
CHIP ROUSH: Chip Roush. I'm a modern day circuit-rider. Debra, thank you, and your institute for all your good work. And—
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: I think you have to—you can pick that mike up.
CHIP ROUSH: I could, but [UNINTELLIGIBLE]
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: You're stretching at the same time.
CHIP ROUSH: But I'm not allowed to do that, evidently. So I'll do this.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Joani, he may have been wanting to stretch.
CHIP ROUSH: I was kind of digging it, but this is cool. I just wanted to borrow your pulpit for a moment and say whether it's the traditional Welcoming Congregations thing, the hopefully soon updated one, or the stuff you're putting out here soon, it's not a one time only thing. Every five years redo your Welcoming Congregation. Every five years. Thank you.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: And thank you. And actually there is a program called Living the Welcoming Congregation, that my sense is most people don't even know it was written. So that's on the web site.
But that's also true, Chip, of every one of these policies. We forget—I often, when someone is in a crisis about an offender and they call me and I say, do you have a Safe Congregations policy? And they say, yes, and I say, let's pull it out before we talk so I know what your policies are. And then the person goes that was like in 1984, I'm not sure where it is. What we do, and we do this really well, is that we get all excited and we do a process and then we pretend like the church isn't making any changes, we don't have any new members, we're all going to remember.
So I think in all of these areas a sexually healthy and responsible congregation, this is an ongoing, living commitment and re-commitment. Just like in marriage.
JACOMINA DE REGT: Jacomina de Regt, from Arlington, Virginia. In Salt Lake City we presented a workshop on OWL OUT, taking OWL outside the congregations, and—
JACOMINA DE REGT: So if anybody is interested in doing this, just do OWLOUT@gmail or see me.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: OK. Great. OWLOUT@gmail. That's great. Thank you.
MAGGIE CLAYTON: Good morning. My name is Maggie Clayton. I am also from Arlington, Virginia. And this is mostly just a suggestion, but when you go to talk about the reproductive choice issue, I'd kind of like to rephrase it, I guess. To me now it's become a civil liberties issues, it is no longer just about my body, my choice. They are now telling me what I have to listen to. So I think that that language needs to be in there. I really think this is now more of a civil justice issue.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Yes. And there were 23 states that have passed new requirements in the last year. So we have states, for example, where women have to go have a sonogram before they can have an abortion. There are other states where the waiting period is now 48 hours after your initial contact. So lots of stuff. We actually at the Institute along with many of our colleagues now talk about a reproductive justice framework. And in fact we have an open letter on maternal mortality and reproductive justice for those of you are not familiar with what the change in that concept is. So I couldn't agree more. Hi Joani.
JOANI BLANK: Hi Debra. I love you Debra.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Thank you, Joani.
JOANI BLANK: I'm Joani Blank, from Oakland, California. And some of you in the room are familiar with the store called Good Vibrations in San Francisco, but you may not know—
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Joani was the founder.
JOANI BLANK: You many not know the founder of Good Vibrations is a UU. And I'm right here. So I'm bragging a little bit, and don't forget to tell everybody the founder's a UU, because that's really important to me. OK. Many years ago—oh, one other thing I want to say about my business. I'm also the author of A Kid's First Book About Sex and the Playbook For Kids About Sex, both of which have been out of print and I can't find a new publisher. However, I'm making them both available free for download online within a few weeks from now. Just look, put akidsfirstbookaboutsex.com, you should find it.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: OK. Did you have one other quick comment?
JOANI BLANK: No, I have a question. Not a comment. As you know I've been very interested from the very beginning in adult OWL, which very in the olden days was going to be, they were going to sort of stop at the high school curriculum, and, well, the adults could use that too. No, no, no. That's the very early days. The adult one has been around for a while. I'm delighted to see there's a young adult one. And my proposal for the next one is, guess what? Senior adults.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Right. We definitely could use a midlife and older curriculum.
SANDRA GREENFIELD: There is one. Widener University's Sexuality and Aging Consortium found Peggy Brick has one out there.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: So what Sandra Greenfield, who is a UU and a sexologist, pointed out was that there is a curriculum—called older, wiser, sexy? Sexy, older, wiser?—that's available from the Widener Sexuality and Aging Consortium. Joani's point, however, was that she thinks there needs to be a Unitarian Universalist one. And actually my report calls for that. I think in terms of funding that that's probably a big sticking point, is where to find the money to support that. Yeah. Well. Good idea. Did you hear that, Sarah? AARP Foundation. OK.
JOAN: Hi. My name is Joan, I'm from here in Charlotte. And I'd like to plug a local activity if any of you here are local. I am the coordinator of the Charlotte Pro-Choice Coalition. Our primary goals are to defend our three local clinics against the local protesters and to collect legal evidence to provide buffer zones around our clinics. If anyone is local and is interested in working with this I am available in booth 1029 where I am volunteering from 3:00 until 7:00 PM today.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Great. Thank you so much for your work. Clinic escorting, for those of you who want to find a way to in fact put some of your issues, almost every clinic in America needs escorts. And so it's a great way to get involved. Yes, ma'am.
MAUREEN SHAIMAN: I have a question about—
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: You are?
MAUREEN SHAIMAN: Oh. I'm Maureen Shaiman from UU Fellowship Stony Brook on Long Island.
MAUREEN SHAIMAN: And I have a question about what you said about the safe churches and sexual offenders. I'm wondering, I have a follow-up, and I'll tell you why I'm interested, but I'm wondering if you could just tell me a little about what you're hoping to implement.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: So I was approached in 2004, because we are seeing, because of the change in the law as well as because of the sex offender registries as well as because of the fact that we have people who are getting in trouble on the Internet, who perhaps might not have been classified as offenders before, but finding themselves in a stings. The UUA approached me to put together a process to look at what would be best practice in our congregations. What I said to them was, and some of you have been to my Balancing Acts workshops, is that the offender we know is actually less risky to us than the offender we don't know, and that I could not write a book on how to integrate offenders or how to develop a process whether an offender is safe to come to a congregation, unless we looked at changing and making a commitment to safe congregation policies overall, that would keep children safe from the people who are only known to themselves.
And so I've written a book. It's online at uua.org, specifically for congregations, called Balancing Acts. There's also a hardcover version, called A Time To Heal, which you can get from my organization, that's not just specifically UU, that looks at how do we keep children safe and then what's the process for putting in place in advance how would you handle a potential sex offender, a person who has been accused, as well as a person who has been convicted. What kind of process would you want to have, who needs to know, what's the limited access agreement, what happens if you're told by a treatment officer or a parole officer the person's not safe, what are your obligations? So it's a very comprehensive look at that. So take a look at it and if I can be of help let me know.
MAUREEN SHAIMAN: OK. That would be wonderful. I'd appreciate that, because in our congregation alone, because of the law, as you said, and because it's so much easier to catch them, than people who are actually hurting children, people who are looking at—three who were looking at photographs online were arrested. One went to federal prison, and then he was outed to our congregation by the minister, even though he never endangered a child, and so—the pain and the rage around this is very strong.
And so I'd like, in the name of protecting children, not to reproduce the sexual oppression that comes from these laws, which are political points scored by politicians, in a Victorian culture, in a Puritan culture in which Comstock laws are still being enforced.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Well, in fact, starting in 2012, there will now be a national sex offender registry. The State of California alone has over a 100,000 people on their sex offender registry, many of whom, for example, were 19 year olds who are having sex with their 17-year-old consensual partner. And so it's a very complex issue.
And let me just say, those of you are saying, oh, wouldn't happen in our congregation. I get one or two calls a month from a UU congregation where someone has been arrested. It's much easier if you've done the work in advance than if you're in the middle of a crisis. Yes ma'am. Your name.
ELIZABETH HITCHCOCK: Hi. I'm Elizabeth Hitchcock. I'm from Anchorage, Alaska. And I was just wondering what the I was at the end of LGBTQI?
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: OK. It stands for intersexuals. Those are people who we used to call hermaphrodites. There are people who believe that they should be identified as people with disorders of sexual development. About one in 1,700 to one in 2,000 babies are born with either indeterminate genitalia or indeterminate chromosomes. Most people are born as XXs if they're women, or XYs if they're male, but there are a whole series of ways that people are born where they're XXYs, XYYs, XXYYs. And so there's an emerging movement for intersex people to be acknowledged and affirmed.
I'm very proud to tell you that actually this week we have just published the first piece on what you need to know, 10 ways to serve intersex people in your congregation. And so that's on the Religious Institute web site. Brand new. And it's an area where by and large clergy and religious educators are not prepared. So when a baby is born, unlike—you all saw that news story about the people in Canada who decided they were going to keep the baby's sex from everybody, including the baby, which as a sexuality educator it's like, and at what point is the child going to notice what sex they are? Soon.
But in fact in about this one in 1,700 cases, in fact babies are born where you cannot say this is a boy or a girl. 30, 40 years ago what would happen is that the doctor would make a determination at birth as to what gender that child was most likely. There would often be surgical intervention in the first six months of the child's life. And what we know is that the gender that then emerged often put people at odds with the biology that had been created for them. If you want to know more about this, come to our web site or look at—there's the intersexual, ISNA. Michael? Where are you? Did you leave? What does ISNA stand for?
JOANI BLANK: Intersex Society of North America.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: OK. Joani got it. Intersex Society of North America dot com. So isna.com.
And it's an area, if you think about, the first thing we want to know when a baby is born is, is it a boy or girl? And when in fact it is both and. I believe that most of our ministers and most of our RE programs would in fact not have the skills to know how to effectively respond in a community. Part of my concern about the couple in Canada was that I felt that it was trivializing what's a real issue in families who struggle without support.
ELIZABETH HITCHCOCK: OK. Thank you.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: You're welcome. And thank you for asking.
EMILY FOX: My name's Emily Fox, and I'm from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. My question is about the use of the term queer. I remember being told not to use that term because many people were offended by that. And I'm wondering where the position is on that generally, from your perspective.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: OK. That's a great question because I had the same issue, which is that there are certain words that if you are not part of that group I feel uncomfortable that you could use them, where people in that group can use them and own them and reclaim them in a way that I as a person of privilege outside of that group should not. There is an increasing movement among people to say that all of those categories—and I think this is coming from a lot of young people—is that LGBTQQIA and God knows what else we could add to that, letters. That in fact that puts people in various binaries and we don't belong in binaries. That sexuality is much more complex and that we all might consider ourselves queer if we don't fit neatly into those boxes.
On college campuses now, for example, there are many college campuses that no longer have an LG or an LGBT group, they have a queer caucus. There are also those of us who would be the As. That doesn't stand for asexual, even though I'm over 50, that stands for allies or advocates. There are many of us who are As who do not feel that the binaries reflect us either. So in some ways there's a way that people are using that. So what we've made the decision at the Institute to do is we're sticking with the alphabet until that there's a little more cultural consensus around there.
There's a hand. Do you want to say something?
SPEAKER 7: One of the concerns with using the term queer is that it eliminates any differences in experiences between those groups.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Right. So he's saying that one of the problems with using queer is that in fact those groups are really different. In fact I wrote a lot, when in fact we went to LGBTT, which was the issue of being trans is very different than sexual orientation and conflating orientation with identity I think is the wrong thing. So I hear that as well.
Ultimately I think what we're—most of us in the sexology field are talking about though, is that once we accept in our bones, in our hearts, in our insides that in fact sexual diversity and gender diversity is part of who we are and is a blessing, then maybe we can get rid of the labels completely. Thank you.
EMILY FOX: Thank you.
EMILY DUMOND: Hi.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Hi.
EMILY DUMOND: I'm Emily DuMond. I am a district board member for the Pacific Central District, elected by the youth in the district.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Congratulations.
EMILY DUMOND: Thank you. And so you mentioned the new youth guidelines. I was wondering if there were young adult guidelines, because young adults are trying to make a new wave of having conferences and meetings together.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Thank you. I think the guidelines are really about people under 18. I think that's a great suggestion. The Youth Caucus last year, I'd volunteered to come and talk about the report, and nobody actually—we didn't get much follow up on that. It's a discussion that I would love to have with you. [? Carrie ?] [? McDonald ?] has now been hired by the UUA, he starts in August, to be our new youth ministers and young adult ministry person. And let's have that discussion.
EMILY DUMOND: Yeah. I was also wondering if I could get more clarification on what the youth guidelines are now, because I know that in the Pacific Central District it's a lot more words than just no sexual activity or—
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: No, no, no.
EMILY DUMOND: No intercourse.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: I can't recite them and I don't have them here and I don't have Internet in the room. So go on and go to uua.org and put in guidelines for youth events and they'll come up. I think they're really quite good now and they're much more nuanced than they've been.
EMILY DUMOND: OK. Thank you.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: You're welcome.
TRACY HOLLISTER: Hi. I'm Tracy Hollister with the UU Fellowship of Raleigh. And I'm a marriage equality advocate and I also go around giving sermons on marriage equality. And I wanted plug something that's near and dear to my heart, or actually plug against it. In Raleigh, in September, as probably many of you know the state legislature will be taking up a bill to put before the people an amendment to restrict marriage to between a man and a woman. Now North Carolina is the only state in the south that does not have such an amendment and we're very proud of that. But now for the first time in, I don't know, a couple decades, the Republicans are in charge of both houses. And of course it's a great get out the vote issue for November.
So there's a rally, the rally of public witness. I hope you will all go. It's against homophobia and transphobia. It's Friday, you meet outside at 4:30 and then you follow the people in the yellow Standing on the Side of Love shirts to Marshall Park. There are two petitions or things of action besides the rally, and that's available at the Standing on the Side of Love booth, which is 727.
If you are from North Carolina, please sign one of these keep discrimination out of the Constitution. I'm personally taking them back to Equality North Carolina and these will go to the Senator and the representatives. So that's the most effective way we have to influence them in September. If you are not from North Carolina, please sign a petition, I have several of them, that is to tell business leaders in North Carolina to reject anti-gay bigotry because it is bad for business.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Great. Thank you. So let me also say Michael, in the back of the room, we could send out a card to the faith leaders who are part of our network in North Carolina to get them to speak out and to endorse our open letter on marriage equality. So if you want to touch base with Michael that would be great. We would be happy to be of some service.
TRACY HOLLISTER: Thank you.
SPEAKER 8: [INAUDIBLE]
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Where is that petition?
TRACY HOLLISTER: Oh, you can you ask me, but booth 727, which is the big yellow booth for Standing on the Side of Love has—I personally gave them 500 of these postcards, and then they have the other petitions for business leaders for non-North Carolina people.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Great. Thank you. OK. Three more.
CAROL LOSCALZO: Hi. I'm Carol Loscalzo and I am from the Ridgewood, New Jersey congregation. And Debra, I was actually going to, I wanted to speak about a resolution on choice and justice. However, I do want to make a comment about all the wonderful help you gave me when we were establishing our safe congregation policy and our policy on—I also am a therapist who works with victims and I've done work with offenders. So I think our policy is really strong because of what you've given us in Balancing Acts, and what we wound up doing was to just take—in our appendix we just have everything that you wrote on offenders.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: And you all can do that to in your congregations. So it's all online and we're also available to help, so if you get stuck or you want to just talk about it a little bit, please call me. Contact information. OK, now talk about the resolution you wanted to—
CAROL LOSCALZO: OK. One other thing about policy. On our web site, the minute you go on to our web site, it says we're a safe congregation, and so you click on that and get to our policy. It's a great way not to lose things.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Great. Thank you.
CAROL LOSCALZO: At any rate, I also am chair of our reproductive justice committee. And in order for us to use the name reproductive justice, we actually communicated in great detail, over hours, with somebody who is on the board of SisterSong, which is the women of color cooperative in Atlanta, Georgia. And so to use the word reproductive justice requires a little bit of effort, work in understanding where they come from. As a matter of fact we're an ally organization of SisterSong, but we cannot become a member because we're not women of color.
However, I really do believe that we need to do something. And I would be willing to try to start to do something to get a resolution which combines all the choice issues that are now floating around with reproductive justice. I think it can all be part of the same resolution.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Yeah. The problem is going to be that you, all know that 2012 we are going to consider only one issue at General Assembly. I don't even know if they're going to handle resolutions, an immediate witness on anything else next year. So you need to touch base with somebody on that commission.
CAROL LOSCALZO: On that commission. I will do that. Thank you.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Thank you. Thank you for your work.
EMILY AHREND: Hi. Emily Ahrend, of the Fellowship in Bellport, New York. Thank you for your work in providing definition to how to assist people who are intersex. I think that's incredible and it's very important. And what sort of work is being done to provide definition to the difference between sexual identity and gender identity.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: We have a book called A Time to Seek, which actually provides for faith communities the science of sexual orientation and gender identity, scripture and traditional references, as well as a study guide. We also have a piece online called Acting Out Loud, which includes specifically how to serve and how to do more aggressive welcome and full inclusion outreach for each of the different areas. Yes. Go ahead and check that out.
EMILY AHREND: Thank you.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Great. And if you find that like we forgot something, let us know.
DAVID HITCHCOCK: All right. My name's David Hitchcock, I'm from the Unitarian Universalist church of Fort Lauderdale, in Florida. And I actually have a statement and a question. The first statement is to reiterate what this gentlemen over here said—
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: Closer.
DAVID HITCHCOCK: Sorry. To reiterate what the gentleman over here said about the queer term. I self identify as openly gay but I think that queer should be a term, I think as a young adult, I see a lot more queer organizations coming out, a lot more young adult people pushing that term instead of having this alphabet soup kind of acronym.
And the question I have is what is the stance of the Religious Institute on polyamory?
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: You know, I've been waiting for, I knew somebody—
DAVID HITCHCOCK: I'm a personal—I personally choose monogamy as my path, but I'm a huge advocate for a polyamorous dynamic. And what is the Religious Institute doing for that?
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: OK. So first of all, just so you all know, the Religious Institute is a four person organization, so we work as quickly as we can, but our work is focused on the call in the Religious Declaration. So our three major areas are full inclusion of women and LGBT people, sexuality education, and reproductive justice. And that's where we spend the bulk of our time.
The Religious Declaration, however, calls for a new sexual ethic. And it says that a sexual ethic should not be based on personal acts. Traditionally religion has focused on is it OK to have sex outside of marriage, is abortion OK, is masturbation OK, is oral sex OK, is homosexuality OK, is multiple partners OK, are hookups OK, are—Right? And then they come up with one answer, which is this is OK, and nothing else is.
What we say is that in fact that ethic not only does not serve people in today's world, where the average age of marriage for college educated people is now 32, the average age of marriage for men overall in this country is 28, for women it's 26. An ethic that says no sex until marriage, based on the fact that biologically we mature at the age of 12 to 14, means that we are insisting as religious institutions in a 14 to 16 year old period of sexual unemployment.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: This is not an ethic for our time. But more importantly, we say that you cannot judge any act or any relationship from the outside. That the relationship needs to be based on love, commitment, honesty.
I've developed something called the CUHMP criteria. CUHMP stands for—and there's a mnemonic, it goes, can you have my pleasure—and it says that a moral, ethical relationship is consensual, unexploitive—which really should be non-exploitive, but I needed a vowel—honest, mutually pleasurable, and, if any kind of intercourse occurs, protected against disease, and if it's heterosexual, pregnancy. OK. Those five criteria. If you look at those five criteria, and we spell it out much more eloquently in the Declaration, in fact people can be in moral polyamorous relationships.
And so although we no more take a position on one kind of relationship and how many people can be in it than we do on whether a one night stand is moral or ethical, but say that in fact there are criteria that are actually more rigorous—I am often accused by people on the right and they say, anything goes. And I say, no, actually this is a higher criteria, because it says that just because you have a wedding band on you do not get conferred morality. So that's where we are on that.
DAVID HITCHCOCK: And also—
DAVID HITCHCOCK: I understand that's the Religious Institute's position on polyamory, but what about like educating people on dynamics. Because I know in my personal church home, I know there are people in polyamorous dynamics in domestic relations and I want to know are you guys doing anything to further educate, or is there a discussion to be had.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: The only place, again, saying that as a small organization we weak clearly focus. In the course I've just developed, the online course, and when I train clergy we absolutely talk about what clergy skills you need to recognize families of all different kinds. And I know that for some of the polyamorous UUs that is not a satisfactory response, so—
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: You can come to the mike, and I think you've got the last comment, because it—I was a little worried I didn't have enough content to fill all this time, but it is 12:00. So tell us who you are and quick comment.
CAITLIN HARE: My name is Caitlin Hare, I'm from Gainesville, Florida. And just for the polyamory question, I believe there's the Unitarian Universalist association for Polyamorous Awareness. And they have a booth in the exhibit hall if anyone wants to talk to them about it. I think they have a lot of stuff to say. I've had some interesting conversations with them.
SPEAKER 9: It's booth 325.
DEBRA W. HAFFNER: OK. Booth 325. I do have some cards here, and please feel free to be in touch with the Religious Institute. We're here to serve you. Thank you for your attention.
50 Years of Sexual Justice is General Assembly 2011 event number 2024.
For more information contact socialjustice @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Wednesday, March 13, 2013.
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