Lay Leader Gender Diversity
We Want the Curriculum to Be Co-Led by People with Different Genders, but All of Our Volunteers Are the Same Gender. What Should We Do?
The most important factor in program success is having facilitators who have been approved to facilitate, who are committed to ongoing learning, and who relate well to participants, parents (for youth programs), and congregational/organizational leadership.
Co-facilitators with differing life experiences and identities will enrich your program. The Our Whole Lives program no longer recommends strictly male and female facilitator teams. We now recognize myriad genders as well as the many ways "difference" can be expressed. You may have two people who identify as male and female, or you may have people of different genders, neither of whom identifies as male or female. Or they may differ in terms of race, age, ability, education, socioeconomics, religious background, or life experience. Someone who has always lived in a major city would offer different perspectives than someone living in a rural area or who has lived in another country or culture.
Some people may be willing to facilitate if they are part of a larger team of rotating facilitators, which requires less of a time commitment from each facilitator. If you use this option, we recommend having one facilitator from the past session to remain as co-facilitator with a new partner for the next. This practice ensures continuity for the participants.
If you find it challenging to engage co-facilitators with significant differences, consider partnering with another congregation (e.g., Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ) or organization to increase access to potential facilitators. Consider also that some people may be willing to facilitate if they are part of a larger team of rotating facilitators, which requires less of a time commitment from each facilitator.
Ultimately, the program is so valuable, affirming and important that offering it is more important than whether there are significant differences between facilitators.