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Posts Tagged ‘OWL

Butterfly came out of her OWL (Our Whole Lives) class this morning with a couple of handouts about sexually transmitted diseases.  I caught sight of them and made an “Oh hey, fun!” type of comment. I expected some eye-rolling in return, but I didn’t expect her to say what she said.

“They showed us pictures.”


“Pictures?” I said.  “Pictures of… sexually transmitted diseases?”


Now, I am well known for my naivete, and I do not have the background to know what STDs look like.  Other than being able to imagine herpes because I’ve seen cold sores before, I didn’t even know that, well, that STDs looked like anything at all.  I vaguely remember high school health class and lists of complications like, um, infertility? Pain, no doubt. There’s gotta be pain. And they can also eventually involve a range of unpleasant things like cervical cancer or insanity or death.  But they also do things you can see?

I couldn’t let this pass.

“But pictures of what, exactly?”

“Well…”  She didn’t seem eager to talk about it. At all.  “You know, infections.”

“So, like, sores?  Pus?  Stuff like that?”

She gave me a sort of non-committal response from which I inferred that I had the basic idea and she didn’t think I needed to know any more than that.

I still wasn’t quite ready to let it go though.

Were they drawings or photos?


Color or black and white?


Wow, that must have been GROSS.

Yes, it was.  It really really was.

While this conversation was going on, NinjaBoy was pulling on my arm telling me to STOP TALKING ABOUT IT because even the vague hints were going to make him THROW UP.

“They passed the pictures around the circle,” Butterfly said, “and told us we didn’t have to look at them.  Only if we wanted to.”

That’s when it hit me.  This is genius. 

At the parent orientation one of the points they made was that OWL, at heart, is about promoting abstinence.  But instead of telling the kids they’re not ready to have sex, it gives the kids information — all the information, so that the kids can see for themselves that they’re not ready to deal with all the complications and messiness of sexual relationships.

Butterfly had mentioned that in the sexuality class at school (not OWL, just the regular public school curriculum) the teacher came right out and said the material was designed to scare them into not having sex. But from what I could tell from the information that was sent home, the school approach was basically just “If you have sex, you’ll get pregnant, or sick!  You could even die!”

C’mon. What teenager is impressed by hypothetical death threats?

But handing them a folder full of color photos of oozing pus and weeping sores and saying “You might not want to look at these”, thus ensuring that they can’t possibly resist taking a peek?

Genius, I tell you.  I’m fairly certain Butterfly will not forget this lesson any time soon.


Back however-long-ago it was that I decided to try the UU church, one of the main reasons I was interested in it was their sexuality class for 8th graders.  It’s called Our Whole Lives (OWL) and it covers… everything. Takes all the mystery out of sex.  It covers stuff I never even heard of until I was in my 30’s.  No, I won’t elaborate.

Somehow Butterfly got to 8th grade — I’m really not sure when my little baby turned into this young woman who is living in our house now — and she is taking the OWL class.  At the parent orientation the team of teachers made it clear that what the kids share in class is confidential. It’s very important that the kids feel comfortable asking questions and sharing thoughts without having to worry about it getting back to their parents.  But, as I pointed out to Butterfly, she can tell me about the topics they discuss, in general terms.  When I mentioned it, Butterfly thought about it for a minute and then said “Yeah, but I don’t see why you’d need to know.”

So, I have a class schedule that lists the topics of each lesson, but no idea what Butterfly’s reaction to any of it is.  Ah well.  She says it’s fun though.  NinjaBoy is very intrigued by it — Butterfly told him it’s a class that’s entirely about “inappropriate stuff.” He just started the school version (FLE) where they learn about puberty, sex, and STDs, and Butterfly commented on how little they tell you in FLE compared to OWL.  Just as well.  The first FLE lesson covered basic anatomy and NinjaBoy came home very grossed out.

In other church news, Horatio joined the choir and it has been a fantastic experience for him.  They do a wide variety of music, the choir director is really good, and it’s challenging enough to be exciting, but not super stressful.  There are, oh, 15 or so men in the choir, and Horatio is one of only 3 tenors, so he feels a lot of responsibility to get it right (especially when he’s the only one singing a certain part, since he’s the only 2nd tenor).  He practices at home, listens to the practice CDs in the car, and is generally having a great time.  Last week the whole service was the choir singing Rutter’s Magnificat.  It was wonderful.

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