Why Is Sexuality Education a Unitarian Universalist Issue?

Sexuality is an integral part of life. In its broadest sense, sexuality encompasses the full expression of an individual's gender, has intellectual and emotional as well as biological dimensions, and is conditioned by cultural and religious norms. In order for individuals to take responsibility for the consequences of their behavior, they must have access to comprehensive sexuality education.

Sexuality education should seek to:

  • increase understanding of sexuality as a normal, healthy, lifelong aspect of human development
  • enhance awareness that there are differences in sexual expression and that sexuality is a personal matter
  • help individuals understand their sexuality, communicate their sexual feelings and decisions to others, and accept responsibility for their sexual decisions

The Unitarian Universalist Association has been a long-time advocate of comprehensive sexuality education. We teach sex education in our congregations through the program Our Whole Lives (formerly About Your Sexuality). Our Whole Lives (OWL) helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. It equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. Grounded in a holistic view of sexuality, Our Whole Lives provides not only facts about anatomy and human development, but helps participants to clarify their values, build interpersonal skills, and understand the spiritual, emotional, and social aspects of sexuality.

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) views sexuality education as an issue of justice. It is our religious faiths and values that compel us to support justice and equity for people of all genders, races, backgrounds, income levels, abilities, and sexual orientations.

Unitarian Universalists have advocated for and demonstrated our high regard for comprehensive sexuality education for over three decades. Begun in 1971, the ground-breaking program 'About Your Sexuality' (AYS) was successfully run in congregations for over 25 years. In 1994, the UUA passed an Action of Immediate Witness entitled "Sexuality Education in Public Schools," which urged its member congregations to advocate the availability of comprehensive, objective, unbiased, up-to-date, age-appropriate, sexuality education curricula in public schools, churches, and the community at large.
Then, in 1998, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ developed the Our Whole Lives program, which is designed to address issues of sexuality from childhood into adulthood. Both programs present abstinence in addition to topics related to sexual activity, including contraception, HIV/ AIDS, and STDs. Unitarian Universalists have a unique religious voice on sexuality education advocacy, and speak strongly against abstinence only promotion as a threat to the health and well being of our youth and our nation.