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MAINE: Sex Education Is Taught Differently Through Rockland Church
Abigail Curtis
February 8, 2012
Bangor Daily News (01.31.12) - Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Nonbinding sex education standards recently released by a national coalition of health and education groups are designed to create a context for lessons by beginning before second grade and continuing through high school.

The Rev. Mark Glovin of Rockland's First Universalist Church said the "Our Whole Lives" (OWL) sex education program offered there does exactly that. Comprehensive and age-appropriate lessons begin with five-year-olds and go through adulthood. The youngest program participants learn about the different types of family, as well as the accurate names for their body parts and that their bodies are "sacred and private," said Carney Doucette, director of religious explorations at the church.

Glovin said OWL complements the science-based approach to sex education taught in Maine schools. "This gives real-world, real-life instruction on how to have a healthy relationship with your sexuality," he said. "It teaches about healthy boundaries and good decision-making. It's about individual integrity within relationships, and recognizes that human sexuality is a sacred and beautiful thing." Margo Arruda, now 17, participated in OWL shortly after taking part in her Portland school's sex education unit. Students in her class learned how to put a condom on a banana - to much giggling and embarrassment, she said. "It was basically, 'If you have sex, we can't stop you. But if you do, use a condom,'" she recalled.

In contrast, OWL "was an opportunity for people my age to sit down and really talk about the things we're all expected to know," said Arruda. "We spent just as much time, if not more time, trying to decide how to take steps in your relationship. How to have a healthy, functioning relationship. How to manage everyday relationships with people."