Let’s talk about sexuality | 2016

32 participants representing 20 different countries spent a week together for the Study Session “Let’s talk about sexuality: The Explosive Power of Taboo Subjects” at the European Youth Centre in Budapest between 9th and 14th of May 2016. The Study Session gathered people from diverse backgrounds creating intercultural and ecumenical environment where everyone had a chance to express their opinion in a safe space. Creating a safe space had an important role as the topic was so sensitive.

Throughout the week the main issues were presented: what is a taboo subject? how to start unwrapping these topics? are there some taboos that should remain taboos? are we having troubles even saying the word sexuality? have we already started talking about marginalised groups, sexual orientation, etc? The non-formal education methodology used allowed participants on the one hand to participate more in their own learning by guiding their own discussions and introducing their own topics and on the other hand to enhance their own learning beyond cognitive.

The invited guests brought their own expertise to the discussion. Dr Konstantinos Kenanidis and Dr Renato Lings presented a biblical, theological and ecclesiological perspective approach on sexuality and sexual orientation during a panel discussion and representatives of local organisations from Budapest that deal with the topics related to the Study Session, Rena Katona and Daniel Holländer, familiarized the participants of the study session with the Hungarian context. Rena Katona from Ars Erotica led a workshop concerning sexual education and Daniel Holländer gave a talk about the Rainbow Foundation and Pride event in Budapest providing insights on governmental decisions in Hungary.

During the week participants discovered that there are different kinds of taboos for different people and what may be a taboo topic for some maybe a widely-accepted discussion/reality for others. For some, own community or church doesn’t want to talk about sexuality much, so even the word sexuality is more or less a taboo. For others, own community or church might be already talking about how to handle same-sex marriage. Recognising this as a challenge may open up for further discussions and offer more possibilities to initiate dialogue. Therefore, this Study Session succeeded in raising awareness of the topic of sexuality overall. Also, the Study Session offered a platform for open and honest discussion, mainly due to the safe space that was created in the European Youth Centre and it is still lasting in a Facebook group of the participants, where they share articles and other relevant material. During the final day, participants created their own action plans fitted to the needs of their own community or church.

The Study Session also fostered re-connection of the participants coming from various member organisations with the core structures (both WSCF-Europe and EYCE are umbrella organisations). The Study Session was a good platform to develop better understanding and cooperation between the two organisations as well as to foster personal connections between the staff members. The areas of expertise of the two organisations were expanded through involvement with the theme.