We recently asked you to share your opinions on what topics would be appropriate as part of sexuality education in youth ministry. The results of what you thought was most important to teach, and what you might not want to teach at all, are below:
Body image and culture 19% Homo/Bisexuality 16%
Abstinence only 15%
Abstinence & safe sex 8%
Male/Female anatomy 5%
Demonstration of condoms 3%
Last weekend, my youth group held a sexuality retreat and all indications from the youth suggest it was a useful and important event. We covered, to greater or lesser degree, every issue above except the condom demonstration (I leave that to the schools to teach!). Most of our retreat actually focused on the same issues that came out on top in our poll: developing healthy relationships that reflect God's love, issues around body image and the way culture shapes our values about self-worth, and the implications of being made in the image of God. We also spent a good deal of time doing activities designed to help the youth become more comfortable with talking about sexuality issues in a church setting.
Perhaps the most interesting parts of the event came each time we opened the box in which youth had been encouraged to place anonymous questions. We would read some aloud and invite the adults to share their thoughts. I think the youth were, at first, amazed at the frankness and honesty with which we answered some of their questions (many of which were either on anatomical issues or attempts to learn the truth behind commonly held misconceptions). As adult leaders, we realized that honesty and directness were paramount to developing trust with our group on this issue. It is our hope that we have only begun a discussion that will continue and that the youth will begin to see that there is indeed a connection between their identity as persons of faith and the gift of their sexuality.
For those interested, one of the primary sources we utilized for the event was the excellent curriculum Our Whole Lives, published jointly by the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Univeralists (and also recommended by our fellow blogger Marie.) If anyone is interested in seeing the outline of our retreat activities, I'd be happy to share it with you.-- Brian