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

Activity 3: Sex and the Media

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Handout 3, Press Release
  • Pens and pencils
  • Newsprint, markers, and tape

Preparation for Activity

  • Copy Handout 3, Press Release for all participants.
  • Write these questions on newsprint, and post:
    • How will you frame the issue to your advantage?
    • What's the "hook" that will get the press interested?
    • What are the two or three main points you want to communicate?
    • How will you communicate the relationship between this action and our Unitarian Universalist Principles?
    • What is the likely opposition? Whom will the paper seek out to get the "other side" of this story?

Description of Activity

Read aloud this quotation from the Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh:

A long-term challenge for the Unitarian Universalist Association was the problem of keeping About Your Sexuality "in context." Materials in the curriculum, particularly the filmstrips, could be represented in sensational ways that were untrue to their role in the program. The filmstrips could be easily employed by the media for their shock value. It is likely that to the average American, the idea of showing full-color pictures of masturbation and sex to 12- to 14-year-olds would sound perverse, at best. In order to be understood, any media discussion of the filmstrips needed to be framed within the context of the curriculum and the congregation. However, this framing did not always happen to the Unitarian Universalist Association's advantage.

Tell the group the UUA has received positive as well as negative press about our sexuality education programs. For example, Oprah Winfrey's O Magazine in July, 2009 ran a very positive story which featured an adult OWL program at a Texas Unitarian Universalist congregation.

Have participants form groups of three to craft a press release about an issue or event related to the congregation's work on sexuality as a justice issue. It can be related to a real event or a hypothetical action. If people seem stuck, ask them to consider congregational public advocacy on one of these issues: comprehensive sexuality education, equal marriage, legislation against affectional orientation- or gender identity-motivated hate crimes, fair legal definitions of "family," safe access to reproductive counseling and health services, or another issue related to human sexuality.

Invite small groups to use the posted questions as they write their release.

Allow small groups to work for 15 minutes. Then, invite each group to present their press release. After every small group has shared, open the floor for discussion. Ask: If you were a member of the press, which statements would have the most impact on you? Which stories would you want to follow up?