OWL & UU Values

Our Whole Lives is one of the most progressive sex education curriculums that exists today- yet it comes from two religious organizations: The United Church of Christ and Unitarian Universalism. When I talked to Jacques and Kirk about how they thought OWL tied into UU values, they felt it tied back in many ways to the values of UU. Jacques told me that “it kind of goes to the fact that- one of the core principles of UU is that every life is sacred and furthermore every part of that life is sacred. Sexuality is part of that, so sexuality is viewed as a gift, so that kind of forms the philosophical approach that kind of underpins a lot of the things that we say”. “Everything we teach sits atop these OWL values and these values are that healthy sexuality affirms your self worth. This of course ties back to the UU principles of every life being sacred”. 1

A specific topic that Jacques sees as linking back to UU values is when they discuss sexual decision-making. This class is close to the end of the class, and “they look at all of the stuff we’ve learned as we kind of tie that back to the values”. “So we kind of reinforced the fact that really these values are kind of the toolkit and so those kind of sit on top of the Unitarian principles, so it kind of trickles up, and so it kind of ties everything together in a nice little package”. 2

these values are kind of the toolkit and so those kind of sit on top of the Unitarian principles

Kirk also felt as though OWL is closely linked with UU values. He discussed that there are many assumptions that underlie the approach that’s taken in class.

These assumptions include:

  • All persons are sexual.
  • Sexuality is a good part of the human experience.
  • Human beings are sexual from the time they are born until they die.
  • It is natural to express sexual feelings in a variety of ways.
  • People engage in healthy sexual behavior for a variety of reasons, including to express caring and love, to express intimacy and connection with another, to share pleasure, to bring new life into the world, and to experience fun and relaxation.
  • Sexuality in our society is damaged by violence, exploitation, alienation, dishonesty, abuse of power, and the treatment of persons as objects.
  • It is healthier for young adolescents to postpone sexual intercourse.


One thing that Kirk find important to emphasize is that many of these assumptions “line up with the basic tenants of UU- respect for everybody, the importance of individual conscience type issues”. “And then periodically when an issue will come up, we’ll bring it back to- you know, let’s think about this. Respect, consent, some of those things, so […] it’s not something that’s discussed every week, but the general framework of what’s going on is explicitly tied at the beginning of the class”. 4

  1. Jacques Capesius, Interview With Emily Perlman, April 24, 2016.

  2. Jacques Capesius, Interview With Emily Perlman, April 24, 2016.

  3. Unitarian Universalist Association: OWL: Sexuality is Honored Here. http://www.uua.org/sites/live-new.uua.org/files/brochure_all_ages.pdf

  4. R. Kirkland Cozine, Interview With Emily Perlman, April 24, 2016.