Supporting sexuality education in the wider community

There’s been a small controversy in Mountain View High School (where some of our UUCPA teens go to school, or will soon go to school) about a special section in the school newspaper on sex and relationships. Some parents objected to the articles written by the student journalists, but Superintendent Barry Groves and other school officials backed up the student journalists. Kudos to Groves — teens need good information about human sexuality, in whatever form they are most comfortable getting it.

I wrote a letter supporting the student journalists’ efforts to report on this topic, which you can read here. (I’ll also include the text of my letter after the jump, if you want to read it on this site).

If you’re a resident of Mountain View, Los Altos, or Los Altos Hills, you may want to write a letter of support to Superintendent Barry Groves for his support of the rights of student journalists to report on this topic.

— Rev. Dan Harper

And here’s the text of the letter published in the Los Altos Town Crier:

To the editor:

I’ve been following the controversy around the articles on sex and sexuality in The Oracle, the Mountain View High School newspaper, as reported in the Los Altos Town Crier (“Parents sound off over Mountain View High newspaper content,” Feb. 27).

Our church, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, serves both Los Altos and Mountain View, and we have a number of young people attending Mountain View High, so this issue is of particular interest to me. Our faith community strongly supports comprehensive education on sexuality for adolescents at a developmentally appropriate level. Research into teen sexuality consistently shows that a fairly high number of teens, probably more than half, engage in sexual intercourse or other sexual acts during their high school years. While I certainly believe it is best for legal minors to postpone all such sexual activity until adulthood, given the high level of sexual activity among teens, I also believe that as a public health matter, they should have accurate information about avoiding sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.

Indeed, our church believes this strongly enough that we provide comprehensive sexual education to adolescents using a highly regarded curriculum titled “Our Whole Lives.” We also offer copies of a renowned book on teen sexuality, “Changing Bodies, Changing Lives,” to the families of all early adolescents in our programs. While the number of teens we see go through our programs is too small to serve as an adequate sample size, anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that providing comprehensive education actually reduces and postpones sexual activity.

While much of the opposition to The Oracle article seems to stem from persons voicing specific religious views, I would like to make it clear that there are other religious views that strongly support comprehensive education on sexuality, in the classroom and through other outlets such as the school newspaper.

— Rev. Dan Harper
Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto

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