Everyone Deserves Comprehensive Sexual Education
Posted by Anna Khan
February 15, 2019
Sexual education doesn’t tend to stray anywhere past preaching of abstinence accompanied by mortifying stories about sexually transmitted diseases, but for people with disabilities, it’s not always considered a problem. A general idea perpetuated through the media attains that people with disabilities have no interest in sex, thereby making it unnecessary for them to see the pictures of people inflicted with chlamydia. Anyone from marginalized groups, including LGBTQ+ people of color, isn’t going to find themselves represented in their high school education classes, but the kids in the special needs program aren’t even given the opportunity to participate at all.
School districts find it difficult to address these issues in sexual education classes. Since there are a variety of disabilities that need a specific method of teaching, teachers feel uncomfortable in handling all the responsibilities. Professionals who understand and are confident in their knowledge must be hired for such classes. Children deserve to receive the best information needed for them to understand their sexual identity, particularly children with disabilities who may not have access to these resources in any other form.
Infantilization by parents of children with disabilities erases those children’s primary source of sexual education. Parents may feel anxious or uncomfortable when it comes to their children growing up and going through changes, so much so that any conversation about sexuality is never on the table. If schools are also not providing that education, children with disabilities will grow up with feelings they don’t understand, potentially harming their sexual identity in the future.
People with disabilities are at a much higher risk for sexual assault as opposed to neurotypical folks. Incidents at care centers aren’t uncommon and are partly attributed to the inability of doctors and nurses to communicate to their patients about sexual issues. Abuse is difficult to name for people who have never been taught to recognize it, and situations can occur right in a center for care if the workers don’t look to catch the signs. Especially when it comes to people who cannot communicate verbally — they must be given the resources to distinguish abuse.
Eugenics and forced sterilization in the past have contributed to present-day ideas on the sexual identities of people with disabilities. Debate arise on whether or not people with disabilities even have the capacity to understand what it is to be in a sexual relationship. Arguments on whether or not they can understand the consequences of sexual activity or what it means to be pregnant are baseless when considering the very real solution to such qualms: give people with disabilities the education that everyone should be awarded.
There are several neurotypical folks who have sexual relationships and get pregnant without a clear understanding of the consequences of those activities. Singling out people with disabilities on these issues is in direct relation with twentieth-century institutionalization’s forcing sterilization even after it was outlawed in 1942. Sexual education is a must in providing a means to understanding sexual identity and thereby an understanding in sexual safety and bodily autonomy. Everyone, but particularly those most vulnerable to harm, must have access to these resources.