Our Mission & Values
Breaking the silence surrounding human sexuality.
At UN|HUSHED, we believe in…
- Sexuality education is a basic human right. It is our mission to provide this education, regardless of the ability to pay, to the greatest degree that we are able.
- A living wage is a basic human right. Our employees should earn a wage that allows them to live a full and productive life. This includes at least three to four weeks of annual PTO, health insurance, and sufficient after-tax income to support themselves in their home area.
- Sexual rights are necessary. As a member organization, we stand by the World Association of Sexual Health’s Declaration of Sexual Rights and our own.
- Everyone’s voice is welcomed, valued, and sought after. This includes people of all genders, orientations, races, ethnicities, religions, ages, abilities, and more. We are only able to continue to improve our organization to the degree that we are diverse and inclusive.
- Social justice and anti-racism are the underpinnings of our work. Without these elements as our compass, for understanding our work, our impact, and our community, we cannot truly achieve our mission.
- Transparency and accountability create trust and connection. These elements raise the quality of organizations’ work. We are committed to engaging in these practices within our organization because we want to be the change we hope to see in the world at large, where individuals and organizations aspire to be their best at all times.
- We value and support innovation. Sexuality education is a constantly evolving field, and to remain relevant to participants of all ages, sexuality education must transform and revolutionize itself with and revolutionizes itself as the surrounding culture evolves. UN|HUSHED will strive to remain at the cutting edge of those processes.
- Both work and education should be beautiful and fun. We aim to provide employees, facilitators, and participants with experiences that are enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing.
- Individual growth leads to societal evolution. Professional growth, networking, and collaboration are all vital, as is the ability to make and learn from mistakes. We support this growth and connection in accountable spaces because it enriches the world in ways that are kind, courageous, and impactful.
- There are many ways to make the world more just, more ecologically viable, and more empathetic. As a blueprint for healthy human communication and connection, sexuality education is one of them. UN|HUSHED has a critical place within the global dialogue about improving the human experience.
It is critical that our programs hold these values as the underpinnings of each and every interaction:
- Sexuality is a very broad topic that includes many aspects of life. Examples include gender, orientation, arousal, attraction, physical and emotional relationships, and more. When you hear or say the word sexuality, it is important to contextualize it in this very broad way.
- All people are sexual beings for their entire lives. This is true even when a person, such as an infant or a person who is asexual, refrains from sexual behavior. Because sexuality is such a broad topic, its impact reaches far beyond sexual activities.
- Sexual pleasure is part of a healthy human experience. Sexual pleasure has been perceived as something that should be avoided except under a narrow set of specific circumstances. However, as a common, natural, and functional experience of bodies, it is an inherently healthy part of being human.
- Sexual well-being is a basic human right. Well-being of the sexual body is a necessity for a person to have personal, physical, and emotional autonomy. This includes physical and reproductive sexual health as well as a very broad understanding of all facets of sexuality.
- Sexuality education is a basic human right. As all people have bodies and are sexual throughout their lives, they have a right to know how their body works so that they are able to make decisions about it that are in their own best interest.
- All gender identities and sexual orientations are normal and natural. The psychological and cultural understanding of sexual identities is expanding dramatically. What we know is that human gender and sexuality is broad and diverse.
- Sexual violence is extremely harmful. From the abstract, like heterosexism, to the concrete, like rape, sexual violence is anything that infringes on another person’s bodily autonomy in ways that harm them physically and psychologically in both the short and long term.
- Compassion and empathy, for the self and others, are the core of healthy sexuality. Because sexuality has the potential to bring such deep joy and such pain, all people benefit from increased compassion and empathy. Learning about the potential joy and pain in sexuality can increase the kindness people show themselves and others.
These values speak to the ways that an UN|HUSHED facilitator brings content to their participants:
- Facilitation is different from teaching. As facilitators, our goal is to create an environment where participants can learn the content that is most important for them, rather than to transmit specific, predetermined pieces of information.
- Language is important. The language that a facilitator uses impacts the feeling of the group and must be taken seriously. Language evolves quickly, and it is okay to make mistakes in your words, but it is critical to acknowledge the mistake and work to not make it again.
- All questions deserve to be answered. This is true even when facilitators may think that a question is designed to be shocking or is inappropriate in some way. It is the facilitator’s responsibility to answer the question in a way that is informational and appropriate given the setting and participants’ ages.
- Saying “I don’t know” is one of the most important tools in the facilitator toolbox. Participants can often tell when a facilitator doesn’t know the answer to a question. When a facilitator fabricates even part of an answer, they decrease participant trust, which is critical to future learning. When a facilitator says they don’t know, and then finds the answer, they model growth and increase participant trust.
- Participants learn from each other. Peer-to-peer dialogue offers potential for a kind of learning and growth that is different from facilitator lecture or even participant-to-facilitator dialogue. This kind of learning is particularly important in sexuality education because it is between peers that participants will be navigating sexual behavior.
- Facilitators are always learning. When a facilitator has ato constant curiosity about their content area, they create a dynamic internal environment and bring energy to their facilitation that is difficult to achieve in other ways. Within the field of sexuality, which covers a wide range of topics, there is always the possibility of learning more.
why sex ed?
Lack of quality human sexuality education contributes to:
- Child marriage. UNICEF reports that 5% of the world’s girls are married by age 15 and 21% by age 18 (these numbers are 12% and 40%, respectively, in the least developed countries).
- Intimate partner violence. The WHO reports that 30% of all women experience physical or sexual violence by their partner, with the numbers ranging from 23% in high-income countries to 38% in some low-income countries. That these numbers are so much higher than the incidence of violence against women by a non-partner (7%) clarifies that violence against women is primarily a relationship-specific issue.
- STI transmission. The WHO estimates that there are 357 million combined new infections of chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis every year, 500 million people living with herpes, and 290 million women infected with HPV, and UNAIDS estimates that there are currently 37 million people living with HIV.
- Stigma, bigotry, and violence based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The Williams Institute reported that out of 141 studied countries, 57% have experienced an increase in acceptance of LGBTQ+ people since 1980 while 33% experienced a decline in acceptance. However, FBI data from 2016 indicates that even in the US, which has seen a substantial increase in acceptance, LGBTQ+ people experience the highest rate of hate crimes of any minority group, twice that of people of color.
- Unwanted pregnancy. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that 44% of pregnancies worldwide are unintended, 25% of all pregnancies were ended through induced abortion, and 45% of all induced abortions are unsafe.
Where other curricula falls short:
- They’re emotionally manipulative. Participants are likely to shut down and not take in any information when a curriculum tries to emotionally manipulate them into particular behaviors (like abstinence-only or abstinence-plus curricula). If you tell someone that they will contract an STI the first time they have unprotected sex, and that participant has already engaged in that behavior, then they know you are using scare tactics instead of medically accurate information. Why should they then believe anything you have to say?
- They focus exclusively on teenagers. Yes! Teenagers need human sexuality education. And all people need to have access to information about sexuality across their entire lives. In school, we don’t expect children to pick up a college level book and read it cover to cover. Rather, we nurture their love of reading from board books up to high school literature classes and hope that they will continue to read for learning and enjoyment through adulthood. Why, then, do we expect people to have safe consensual sexual relationships without any—or very brief at best—sexuality eductation?
- They’re not culturally relevant. Most curricula are required to be taught with absolute fidelity, which ignores individuals’ and communities’ educational needs. The reality is such that different groups need more information on specific topics than others. Ignoring this is a diservice to the communities and individuals we are trying to educate.
- They’re not inclusive. LGBTQ+ identities are either left out entirely or are relegated to identity-specific units rather than being interwoven throughout all content areas. These methods help reinforce heteronormativity, rather than inclusion and acceptance across the spectrum. Intersex persons are not included and biological sex is only discussed in a binary. Leaving out these members of our society is physically and emotionally harmful.
- They’re not trauma-informed. Teaching topics such as sexual violence without being trauma-informed has the potential to actively harm and re-harm participants. Because there is such an emotional component tied to sexuality, there is also an emotional component tied to teaching about it. It seems like such a simple concept, and yet it is not always accounted for in other curricula.
- Their facilitators lack information. This prompts them to provide incorrect or outdated information to students.