Selecting good leaders?
The success of this program depends on the qualified and caring persons who are selected and trained to be Our Whole Lives facilitators. Keep the following criteria in mind when choosing your facilitators:
- A commitment to value-based, comprehensive sexuality education. Facilitators need to have values in harmony with the program, and to feel comfortable with their own sexuality.
- Experienced, skilled, and comfortable with the specific age group and its developmental needs. A facilitator needs to stimulate discussion by asking open-ended questions, encouraging communication among participants, and facilitating activities that foster experiential learning. A facilitator needs to use sexual terminology and age-appropriate language comfortably, relate well with the age group of the participants, and convey warmth and a sense of humor while understanding and maintaining appropriate boundaries.
- Anti-bias awareness. Facilitators need to understand, appreciate, and celebrate diversity of race/ethnicity, culture, age, ability, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Facilitators need skills to work with people of diverse backgrounds and the ability to create a safe and engaging learning environment.
- An advocate for sexual health and safety. Facilitators need not only knowledge and skills but the character to fulfill the trust inherent in the role of sexuality educator. This role includes the responsibility to recognize and report concerns around possible suspected abuse. Facilitators must support your organization’s safety-abuse policy and follow your state’s or province’s process for reporting and investigating an alleged abuse.
- Ability to build respectful relationships and good rapport with participants. Facilitators need to develop a positive relationship of respect and rapport with participants and their families. Facilitators need to build community in the classroom, uphold the Participation Guidelines, and develop relationships of respect, reciprocity, and responsibility within your organization and the wider community.
- Dedicated learner and facilitator. Facilitators need to become thoroughly familiar with the program, work with co-facilitators, and listen to and learn from young people and parents.
- Appropriate boundaries. Facilitators need to understand that the class is for the participants to learn about their sexuality. Facilitators should not use class for their own personal exploration or self-disclosure. This is critically true for the children’s and adolescent levels, but it is also true for the peer-led Young Adult and Adult levels. Facilitators need to understand the ways that their own participation could compromise their effectiveness as facilitators.
- Person of faith. When offering Our Whole Lives in a congregational context, a facilitator needs to be a person who is respected by the congregation and comfortable discussing the integration of sexuality and spirituality with members of their faith community. They should be aware of their own spiritual or religious grounding, and should possess an ability to connect the program values with their religion’s principles, traditions and history.
It is very important to use these criteria in selecting the facilitators that you will send to training. (See "What does facilitator training involve?") It is also important to know that the Trainings have a screening element of the potential Our Whole Lives facilitators. Our trainers have a responsibility to the Our Whole Lives program to observe participants during the trainings to help ensure that it is led by capable and responsible facilitators.
Occasionally our trainers identify individuals during the trainings that might not be appropriate for facilitating Our Whole Lives. In those cases, trainers are instructed to speak directly to the facilitators in question and also notify contact persons at the facilitators’ congregations. Documentation is also sent to the Unitarian Universalist Association and United Church of Christ (UCC) for their files.
In addition to carefully selecting facilitators for OWL, congregations are responsible for providing continued supervision and support for facilitators.