I had the incredible honor and privilege to be part of a group of faithful, religious communities joined in voice to promote comprehensive sexuality education last week in Washington, DC.
The 6th Annual SEAT (Sexuality Education Advocacy Training) was put on by the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Union for Reform Judaism. I am still processing, interpreting, coveting, and holding dear and discerning best ways to share all that I learned and experienced there.
Aside from the fact that 40 of us came from literally all over the country (Washington State, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Texas, New Mexico, California, Indiana, Delaware, Massachussetts, etc), the experience of joining together as people of faith to be a religious voice to our legislators about a topic so precious to me touches my heart deeply.
Lobbying was, how can I say this? Way cool!!!!! Empowering, inspiring, patriotic....
Being in community with people who are intergenerational (lots of youth and young adults there with us older folks), interfaith, advocates for sexuality education of the comprehensive variety seemed to be a match made especially for me. I love teenagers, I love my faith and learning about the faith of others, I love advocates and advocating, and I love sexuality education. 'Nuf said.
But what I really want to share is a prayer written and read by UUA Reverend Meg Riley at our closing time together. You can go here for her post, and I am also including the text of her prayer below. I hope it touches and inspires you like it did me. And you can take that inspiration into action by contacting your legislators and asking them to support the REAL Act (Responsible Education About Life), which is legislation that would open up a federal funding stream for comprehensive sexuality education. Please also ask that they DEFUND abstinence only education--those funds have already been allocated and must be defunded or they just keep on giving groups money to spread myths like HIV is spread through tears, and condoms failure rates are 30% (go here and here for some really entertaining presentation of some really startling information.
Here's the prayer, with my blessings added to Reverend Meg's, and in conjunction with my faith community in supporting us all to be healthy, included in community with one another, and loved always.
Sweet source of hope and healing, longing and life,
We know our first responsibility is to create a world which supports the growth of our world’s children
A world safe for them to explore, and to learn and grow, without being judged or punished.
A world safe for them to make mistakes, knowing there is nothing they can do to lose our love.
May we provide them with tools to protect themselves and those they love from decisions which hurt—information about the physical, spiritual, emotional aspects of sexuality.
May they know it is safe for them to come to us always, and we won’t make it worse.
We wish that life were simple.
We wish that unwanted pregnancies never occurred,
That no one engaged in any kind of sexual activity without protection and real choice, real response-ability,
That all people were equally valued.
We wish that every person knew his or her own beauty and worth, and thus that of the others with whom she or he interacted.
A child I love dearly, aged ten, was struggling with gender identity.
“Do you ever feel,” I prodded gently, trying to understand, “as if you were born into the wrong body?”
The young one paused for a moment of silence, and responded, “Nope, this is my body all right. I feel like I was born into the wrong world!”
We pray that we can make this wrong world a little bit more right for our children.
May they know and cherish their own bodies as sacred, beautiful, true.
May we create a world which reflects this back to them.
May we demand schools, governments, communities, which honor them
And in so doing, be worthy of this gift of life, this beautiful broken world.