Our Whole Lives

The Our Whole Lives logo.

Our Whole Lives, or OWL, is a series of six comprehensive sexuality curricula for children, teenagers, young adults and adults published by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries.[1][2] Publication was the result of seven years of collaborative effort by the two faiths to prepare material which addresses sexuality throughout the lifespan in age appropriate ways.

The Our Whole Lives program operates under the idea that well informed youth and young adults make better, healthier decisions about sexuality than those without complete information. OWL strives to be unbiased and teaches about heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, and transgender sexual health. In addition to information on sex, OWL is intended to help children, youth, and adults to be emotionally healthy and responsible in terms of their sexuality.

Program structure

There are four OWL curricula designed for the American school grades of K–1, 4–6, 7–9, 10–12, plus one for young adults (18- to 35-year-olds) and one for adults.

Each session of the Our Whole Lives curriculum can include the "Sexuality and Our Faith" companion, which comes in separate versions, one for the UUA and CUC communities and another one for the UCC community. Without "Sexuality and Our Faith," the programs have no religious material and are thus appropriate for use in schools and other non-religious institutions.

Program values

Our Whole Lives is built upon four core values:

  1. Self Worth
  2. Sexual Health
  3. Responsibility
  4. Justice and Inclusivity.

Participants are encouraged to use these values in decision-making concerning their own sexuality and relationships. Throughout the program, participants are encouraged to explore and learn to articulate their own values.

Program leaders

Our Whole Lives classes are led by teams of facilitators recruited from within their congregations. Before leading Our Whole Lives, facilitators must complete a training program led by certified trainers of trainers. Training is intensive and focused on building the facilitation skills demanded by Our Whole Lives. In addition to exploring the core values and pedagogical theory underlying Our Whole Lives, trainings include opportunities to peer-facilitate a session, giving future leaders hands-on experience. At the end of the training (which is approximately 20 hours of training over three days), facilitators must be certified by their trainers before leading Our Whole Lives in their congregations.

Facilitators for Our Whole Lives work in teams of at least two – one male and one female – for each class. The gender balance allows participants to feel comfortable raising concerns, questions and issues with their trainers. For the middle school (grades 7-9) curriculum, some activities are done in gender segregated groups, otherwise all activities take place in mixed gender groups. Leaders for Our Whole Lives are expected to model the program values - treating participants with respect and honoring their moral agency.

In Unitarian Universalist congregations the grades 7–9 OWL curriculum replaced the somewhat controversial About Your Sexuality, which went out of print in the 1990s.


  1. Unitarian Universalist Association Our Whole Lives pages (http://www.uua.org/re/owl). Retrieved on 2007 May 22.
  2. United Church of Christ Our Whole Lives pages (http://www.ucc.org/justice/sexuality_education/our-whole-lives.html). Retrieved on 2007 November 16.
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