Unitarians Offer Comprehensive Sex Education Program – Press Release August 29, 2018

The Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) announces the availability of the sex education program, Our Whole Lives (OWL), to Ontario schools and parents.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada – August 29, 2018 – The Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) advocates for fact-based sexuality education, which is provided in many Unitarian congregations through its progressive Our Whole Lives (OWL) program.

The CUC believes that the Ontario government’s decision to repeal the comprehensive 2015 Health and Sex Education curriculum and reinstate the curriculum from 1998 will leave children at risk and adversely impact schools’ ability to create cultures of inclusion, safety and consent. Neither does it prepare students of all genders and sexual orientations to develop healthy, consensual relationships.

To fill the gap of the important information and content that is missing from the 1998 curriculum, the Canadian Unitarian Council supports and promotes Our Whole Lives (OWL). OWL is an extensive  lifespan sexuality education program created almost 20 years ago by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ in the US. The curricula includes age ranges from kindergarten to adulthood, and has been updated regularly to stay current. The 2018 OWL program provides honest, accurate, and developmentally appropriate information about a range of topics including relationships, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual health, and cultural influences on sexuality.

OWL supports and encourages family conversations about sexual values and healthy decision making. The curriculum is based on the principles of self-worth, sexual health, responsibility, justice, and inclusivity, and helps people of all ages make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behaviour. The program dismantles stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships, improves decision making, and has the potential to save lives.

“Through our experience offering Our Whole Lives, we understand the profound effect that inclusive, respectful, fact-based sex education can have on young people,” says Vyda Ng, Executive Director of the CUC. She adds “Our Whole Lives empowers children, teens and others across age lifespans to understand not only their bodies but also their relationships and the importance of consent and respect in building healthy relationships.”

The Canadian Unitarian Council is deeply concerned that the loss of comprehensive sexuality education in Ontario schools will leave children and youth vulnerable at a time when they most need accurate information and empowerment to make good decisions. Asha Philar, OWL Coordinator for the CUC states, “The Our Whole Lives program gives youth the tools to make healthy and age-appropriate choices and helps LGBTQ youth find self-acceptance and support. Without access to accurate information and learning opportunities, Ontario students are put at risk and we fear that LGBTQ youth will face even more barriers to acceptance.”
OWL programs are available through many Unitarian congregations from September to May. To find out more about the OWL program and where workshops for ages kindergarten to adult are available, contact owl@cuc.ca.

More information about the CUC’s Our Whole Lives Sexuality Education program can be found on the CUC website.  https://cuc.ca/congregations-leaders/religious-exploration/our-whole-lives-owl/ or email owl@cuc.ca.

Additional information and calls to action:

Members of the CUC and its congregations are invited to sign the following petition calling on Premier Ford to keep Ontario’s 2015 sex-ed curriculum: https://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/doug-ford-keep-ontario-s-sex-ed-curriculum

Please phone Education Minister Lisa Thompson to reinstate the 2015 Ontario Health and Sex Education curriculum:  https://www.leadnow.ca/call-to-save-sex-ed/

About the Canadian Unitarian Council

The Canadian Unitarian Council / Conseil unitarien du Canada (CUC) is the national association of Unitarian Universalist congregations in Canada. We are a diverse faith community bound by a common commitment to equity and justice. We covenant to a set of principles, which calls us to seek peace, liberty and compassion, to search for truth and meaning, to respect the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and to uphold democratic processes.

2 Faiths, 1 Home — a Shared Future?

In mid-May, more than 30 members of the UFP and Beth Israel communities gathered in curiosity, connection and play in response to this invitation:

What if Peterborough’s Jewish and Unitarian congregations could grow in friendship … creating a shared sense of belonging and ownership?”

“What if, every time we entered the building we felt at home as one family: our space, together? What playful experiments could we try that might lead the way to future collaborative possibilities?”

(Click on the images for larger versions with captions. Photos: Ben Wolfe)

At a 4-hour workshop and lunch, invited and hosted by members of both communities, we got to know each other better and explored ways of deepening our 10-year partnership in a shared space. We learned a great deal about each other’s dreams and needs, hopes and fears. Mostly, we looked for ways to spend more time together as we consider the options and implications of changing what has been largely a landlord-tenant relationship.

It has been comfortable and served us both well — but we seem to share a question. Can it be more? What might that make possible that is not possible now?

UFP members learned that the Beth Israel community spends more than 80% of its time and resources on building issues. The Beth Israel community discovered that the Unitarian congregation sometimes longs for a place that feels more like home, and can be a hub of community and social justice activity. We all discovered some easy possible ways to collaborate, starting by building on things we are already doing.

The process, based on participatory methods from our 2+ years of Community Conversations, led to the five shared projects below. Which might you want to join in?

  1. Singing Together
    A group is exploring gathering this summer to learn some songs from both traditions, and sing them at services in each congregation in the fall.
  2. A Shared Film Series
    A group is diving into jointly curating and hosting a film and dialogue series this coming year, building on many current interests and activities.
  3. Joint Social Justice Activities
    From food issues to refugee sponsorship to indigenous reconciliation, we are active in the community in many ways. What if we welcomed each other’s members into some of those efforts?
  4. Family Activities
    There were ideas for a fun fair, a parade float and more.
  5. Gardening Together
    A simple way to care for and enhance our shared space, while spending time together.
Music… Gardening… A shared film series… Joint social justice work… Family activities… More than 30 members of the UFP and Beth Israel communities proposed and began work on easy ways of getting to know each other better in the coming months, and deepening our two congregations’ relationship.


Call to Racial Justice

The Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada have issued a Call to Racial Justice, which you can find here.
As a people of faith we are just beginning to engage with the multiple ways in which structural racism and the Eurocentric origins of our movement impact who we are and how we live and interact.
As Canadian UU’s, committed to a world where our interdependence calls us to love and justice, we are called to act
for racial justice in our organizations, our communities, and also in our hearts, so that ALL people, regardless of racialized identities may know their sacred worth and dignity.