Toward a Sexually Healthy and Responsible Unitarian Universalist Association

In July 2009, the Religious Institute, with support from the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock and the leadership staff of the UUA, began a systematic review of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s sexuality-related policies, programs, advocacy, and commitments.  The survey and final report were authored by Rev. Debra Haffner,  Executive Director of the Religious Institute. The following areas, which constitute the foundation of a sexually healthy and responsible religious denomination, were reviewed and assessed:
  • Policies, bylaws, and procedures
  • Full inclusion of women in denomination leadership
  • Full inclusion of BGLT persons
  • Sexually healthy religious professionals, including:
    • Required competencies for ministerial candidates
    • Sexually healthy and responsible seminaries
    • Continuing education and support
  • Sexually healthy congregation programs and policies
  • Sexuality education, including curricula, training, implementation, and supervision
  • Sexual abuse and harassment prevention policies and procedures
  • Prophetic witness for sexual justice in the public square
The Religious Institute reviewed more than 40 documents and reports, conducted one-on-one interviews with 17 UUA staff members, and conducted an electronic survey of all UU fellowshipped ministers with email addresses. The survey had a response rate of 41% after three follow-ups. The needs assessment demonstrated that the UUA has both significant strengths and areas that require attention and improvement. The UUA can be proud of the OWL curricula; its longstanding commitment to full inclusion of lesbian and gay persons in our congregations, clergy, and society; gender equity in leadership and clergy; and its strong prophetic voice on sexual justice in the public sphere. The study also revealed significant areas of needed improvement, including the need to renew its commitment to the OWL program, BGLT programs and materials, and ongoing public leadership on the broad range of sexual justice issues. In addition, the UUA needs to significantly strengthen its procedures on sexual abuse and misconduct prevention and response. A full list of recommendations from each section of the report can be found at the end of the report.

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