Tapestry of Faith: Resistance and Transformation: An Adult Program on Unitarian Universalist Social Justice History


The sexuality education program is about wholeness and healing. It is about justice and equity. It is about responsibility to self and to others, and it's about enhancing the meaning and value of life itself, and those are all religious pursuits. — Judith A. Frediani, quoted in the 1999 UU World article "From Liberation to Health" by Dan Kennedy

The title of this program, Resistance and Transformation, also characterizes our Unitarian Universalist journey with sexuality education. Our advocacy for comprehensive sexuality education is rooted in our quest for justice and in our resistance to social and religious pressures that seek to limit information about and acceptance of the sexual aspects of what it means to be human. The transformation of Unitarian Universalist attitudes and actions concerning comprehensive sexuality education was a process that required years of study, theological reflection, and commitment to engaging with real world questions and concerns.

For centuries, Unitarian and Universalists have wrestled with Western Christian theological concepts relating to human sexuality—for example, the notion of original sin, the condemnation of homosexuality, acceptance of the virgin birth of Jesus, and the belief that our physical self is separate from and inferior to our mind or spirit. At times, these concepts fostered oppressive social and cultural standards regarding human sexuality and sexuality education. In the latter half of the 20th century, as our tradition began to assimilate ideas from the feminist movement and the sexual revolution and come to terms with problems like HIV/AIDS and sexual abuse, Unitarian Universalists have often found themselves at the forefront of transformative justice work around the issue of sexuality.

This workshop explores what "sexual justice" means in the context of our faith, presents the recent history of our comprehensive sexuality education, and examines the broader social reaction to the Unitarian Universalists taking a religiously grounded, liberal stance on sexual justice issues.

To ensure you can help adults of all ages, stages, and learning styles participate fully in this workshop, review these sections of the program Introduction: "Accessibility Guidelines for Workshop Presenters" in the Integrating All Participants section, and "Strategies for Effective Group Facilitation" and "Strategies for Brainstorming" in the Leader Guidelines section.


This workshop will:

  • Invite consideration of the connection between sexuality education and justice
  • Present the history of the Unitarian Universalist approach to sexuality education
  • Describe how the media has responded to our liberal religious public witness on issues of human sexuality.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Learn how Unitarian Universalist sexuality education programs have evolved
  • Understand the difference between expressing personal feelings, concerns, and opinions regarding sexuality and sexual expression and advocating for public policy in those areas
  • Be able to articulate how comprehensive sexuality education is consistent with Unitarian Universalist values and connected to social justice.