Invitation and Overview

This year’s UU Common Read discussion materials invite participants to tell their own stories and form a deeper understanding of how their gender identity has shaped their lives. The curriculum provides resources for three four-session tracks: one for an affinity group of transgender and nonbinary people, one for a mixed cohort, and one (to come in late summer 2024) focused specifically on youth and family. Using a small group ministry model, facilitators can gather a group in person, online, or in a hybrid format. Each session will run around 90 minutes, including 15 minutes spent on covenant, chalice lighting, and group check-ins.

Please be sure to read through the introductory materials and all four sessions of your track before beginning. Each session contains important guidelines for planning and facilitation.

Because this curriculum will introduce some concepts and language around gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation that may be unfamiliar to you or to participants, the first session of each track offers some introductory materials to promote greater understanding of these concepts. You may also read more on our Introduction to Key Concepts page. And whether or not you yourself are nonbinary or transgender, participants may ask questions you don't know the answer to. That’s all right! You are not expected to become an expert on gender or gender identity, just to be willing to open your heart and mind, and to help others do the same. Say that you don't know, and move on.

This curriculum is an introduction to gender identity, but will also be useful to groups seeking to promote the values of the interdependent web of existence; the inherent worth and dignity of all people, whatever their identity or life experiences; and justice and compassion in how we treat one other and ourselves. It will encourage participants to better understand others, and in this way encourage their own spiritual growth.

In each track, the first session does not depend on participants having read the book. It introduces general concepts in the mixed group track and focuses on establishing community trust in the affinity group track.

Tracks for a Mixed Cohort, a Cohort of Transgender and Nonbinary People, and a Youth-Focused Cohort*

There are versions of this curriculum, each following the same general outline. The first is for mixed groups that may or may not include transgender or nonbinary people or their families. The second is for a cohort of people who are transgender or nonbinary (Native, First Nations, or Indigenous people may also use the term two-spirit). Finally, a youth- and family-focused track will be added in Summer 2024. Although the different tracks offer content and exercises suited to their particular participants, they all follow the same general plan. Each session is planned to last 90 minutes, although you may choose to spend more or less time, according to the needs of participants. Larger groups, in particular, may need more time to work through the activities.

Introduction to the Study Guide

Start here! Each group's discussion guide begins with an introduction page (mixed group; caucus group) that facilitators should read before moving on to the four sessions. Each group’s discussion guide will then have 4 sessions.

  • Session One (mixed group; caucus group) offers an introduction to concepts of gender, transgender history, and life outside of the gender binary. It also guides the group through the process of establishing a covenant that will be used throughout the curriculum.
  • Session Two (mixed group; caucus group) discusses how identity is formed and how we learn to tell our own stories of who we are.
  • Session Three (mixed group; caucus group) explores the diversity of families and experiences in life and love, and how we form communal identities as members of families and of friendship circles.
  • Session Four (mixed group; caucus group) explores why authenticity and acceptance of self are critical to human thriving, and what it feels like to stand with full authenticity in your body and mind.

We suggest leading the four sessions in close succession, once a week for a month or every other week for two months. However, they could also be led as a weekend retreat or full-day experience, or as a seasonal monthly learning series.

The handouts include many resources intended to ease the burden on facilitators. Be sure to take advantage of them.

General Required and Suggested Materials

If you are facilitating this curriculum in person, you will need to have a number of materials available:

  • Colored pocket folder for each participant
  • Name tag stickers and markers
  • Pens or pencils
  • Way to make copies of handouts (some may be shared virtually, but several are worksheets for participants to complete)
  • Laptop or other way to play videos and music
  • Chalice and a way to light it
  • Blank paper for journaling
  • Whiteboard and dry erase markers, or a newsprint pad
  • Stopwatch, timer, clock with a second hand, or other way to keep time

Virtually every session in each track will use these; individual sessions will have specific additional needs, which are indicated in their Materials sections.

If you are facilitating an online group or in a hybrid format, ask online participants to have writing materials at hand. Send online participants the links to handouts in advance, so that they can print them out if they wish; or be prepared to post the handout text in a chat window or display it on a shared screen. Because all rights to songs and music videos are reserved by the original musicians, we advise you not to play them on an online platform like Zoom or Google Meet.

We hope this curriculum will be transformative for your entire congregation.

*Coming Summer 2024