UUCA Youth Group: Fighting Oppression
This post comes from the Youth group of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Virginia.-Ed.
Over the past year the members the UU Church of Arlington, VA youth group have focused many of our service projects on anti-bullying and anti-oppression activities, and lately this has also included issues of reproductive justice. As youth, we see the effects of bullying every day on students and friends – simply because they are seen as “different”. Through our work we’ve had the privilege of working with youth from many identities, be it LGBTQ youth, youth of color, youth with ability challenges and youth that just feel out of place at times. Many times these youth identified with more than one of these groups. To raise awareness for these issues we sponsored a spirit day at our church where everyone wore purple to educate and show support for anti-bullying campaigns. We participated in a community conference for LGBTQ youth and helped to sponsor a big dance afterwards. The common thread we heard time and time again was how bullying made the youth feel de-humanized. How it made them question their value as a human being and citizen of this country. We made the decision to go to Phoenix General Assembly because the anti-immigration laws in practice there are just another form of oppression and bullying. When our minister delivered a service about personhood and what defines us a person we decided we also wanted to learn more about the issues surrounding reproductive justice. As with the other groups affected by bullying, we have seen women made to feel shame, guilt and isolation.
We feel there are multiple intersections between reproductive justice and our UU values. As with other social justice issues; reproductive justice is based on the inherent worth and dignity of every person. No one should be made to feel shame. One of the areas we believe could have a big impact is in the area of comprehensive sexuality education. We are lucky to have a great Our Whole Lives (OWL) program at UUCA. It is very empowering to know that our faith and our church recognize and respect us as intelligent and responsible human beings. We would like to see this curriculum and others like it made available to as many youth and young adults as possible. We hope to make lobbying for more funding of comprehensive sexuality education a priority next year. Our youth group is excited to work on strategies that go beyond the historical battles for choice and really get to the heart of individual liberties that matter to all people. Recognizing women as moral decision makers, ensuring everyone has access to healthcare and family planning services, providing opportunity for personal and economic growth and supporting the human right for all women to raise their children in a safe and healthy environment are truly transformative goals.
While studying information on “What is Reproductive Justice” we found a statement on the SisterSong website which sums up our feelings and passion surrounding reproductive justice. “By shifting the focus to reproductive oppression—the control and exploitation of women, girls, and individuals through our bodies, sexuality, labor, and reproduction—rather than a narrow focus on protecting the legal right to abortion, SisterSong is developing a more inclusive vision of how to build a new movement”. The youth of UUCA hope to continue our work with anti-oppression and anti-bullying by playing a role in this inclusive new movement.
The members of the Unitarian Universalist GA 2012 youth & young adult delegation