Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Beyond the Birds and the Bees

“Sex and the Swimming Pool” by Elizabeth Canfield

“I’ve often wondered what it would be like if we taught young people swimming in the same way we teach sexuality. If we told them that swimming was an important adult activity, one they will all have to be skilled at when they grow up, but we never talked with them about it.
We never showed them the pool. We just allowed them to stand outside closed doors and listen to all the splashing. Occasionally, they might catch a glimpse of partially clothed people going in and out of the door to the pool, and maybe they’d find a hidden book on the art of swimming, but when they asked a question about how swimming felt or what it was about, they would be greeted with blank or embarrassed looks.

Suddenly, when they turned 18, we would fling open the doors to the pool and they would jump in. Miraculously, some might learn to tread water, but many would drown.”
Have you been frustrated by the religiously-influenced and/or abstinence-only sexual education class that is provided in many of our public schools? Do you believe that youth should be informed about emotional, spiritual and physical risks/precautions before becoming sexually active? Do you wish that you had a sexuality education experience that helped you in developing healthy sexual boundaries, values and perspectives? Do you want to make sure our children and youth learn about sexual education in such a way as to prepare them for the challenges, concerns, joys and confusions of human sexuality? Do you believe that this generation's sexuality education should include respect for and information regarding diverse gender expressions, gender identities and sexual orientations? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, please support OWL. You can make a difference for the children of our congregation and the wider Denton community.

Our Whole Lives (OWL) is a comprehensive sexuality education program for all ages (kindergarten through adult). Different aspects of sexuality are covered at age appropriate levels – the “nuts and bolts”, sexual orientation, gender identity, different kinds of relationships, safe sex, making responsible decisions, learning to say “no”, etc. We hope to offer the more comprehensive twenty-seven-week middle school level program in 2013/14. We intend to invite the wider community as an outreach ministry and as an answer to what they are getting (or not getting) in their public schools. The program is made up of workshops that are fun and that help to ease conversations about things that people are often embarrassed to talk about. Students are provided with a safe place to learn, to talk about concerns and to ask any questions they have (there are no bad questions). Leaders for the program must have training that will help them feel comfortable and competent in teaching the material. Lesson plans are all mapped out so it is not necessary to come up with plans of our own. Training will be all day Friday, May 10 through Sunday, May 12 in Dallas.

A brochure is available online at: Early registration ends on Monday, April 15th.

If you can attend this training and volunteer to teach at least some of the twenty-seven sessions for middle school in the 2013/14 school year, please contact Sue Lowry ASAP ( If you cannot participate but would like to sponsor a volunteer for $250, please also be in touch with Sue Lowry. In order to offer the middle school OWL program, 2-4 teachers are required. If additional volunteers and funding come forward, we could also consider offering the shorter-term programs for younger children.

We are fortunate to have this training offered so close to home. Please consider participating while we have this rare opportunity.