Let’s try this again – OWL
On November 11, 2016, 3 days after the presidential election, I got on a plane to attend a long scheduled training. I was going to learn how to teach affirming, faith based sex education for 7th-12th graders.
In retrospect, it wasn’t a terrible way to spend that surreal weekend. I was at a retreat center with minimal internet access, thus limiting the terrifying predictions and rabbit holes that I could fall down. I was surrounded by 40 religious people who were dedicated to making sure that the youth in their churches heard positive messages about sex and sexuality, which was very soothing. Also, I was with my mom (yes, I did sex ed training with my mom, that’s how we roll) whose presence I am lucky enough to find comforting.
All of that being said, at the time it was a very surreal experience. It felt as though the world as I knew it had just turned upside down and I was learning how to teach 7th graders about STI transmission through the medium of M&M’s. It could seem trivial. Surely there was something else I was supposed to be doing? Weren’t we meant to be fixing this?
As the days and years went by, I came to realize that, no matter what it might feel like in the moment, our small commitments to making the world a better place continue to matter. In fact, sometimes they matter more. On any given day, it’s hard to imagine how I might heal the big hurts of our world. I can protest, call my legislators, give money…and still. The racism, homophobia and hatred in the world can feel like it is winning. That doesn’t mean we should stop fighting, but sometimes we need to see concrete change in the world.
When we teach our young people they they deserve control of their pleasure and give them the tools to take that control, that is not just one life we have made better, it is all of their future partners, and theirs as well. Same thing when we teach them how to use a condom properly, or how to work to avoid STI’s with the previously mentioned M&M activity. Young people who grow up with healthy ideas about sexuality make the world a better place, and not incidentally, they are happier and healthier people.
This weekend I will be joining DLFD Emily Crutcher and church member Molly Wilkinson for a different OWL training, this one for adults. We’re going to explore the radical notion that our adults should be at least as well informed about sex and healthy sexuality as our young people.
I’m guessing this training will be a little less surreal but similarly meaningful. I look forward to telling you all about it.