PERSPECTIVES | Let’s talk about sexuality and disability

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017
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Discussing sexuality and sexual misconduct is tough, as we have recently seen in the national press. Add disability to that mix and the conversation becomes even more difficult. People struggle to talk about sexuality, or even admit it exists for people with disabilities. Yet “disabled people, by defying some of the damaging myths around [sexuality], may end up liberating all of us,” concludes an article in The Atlantic.

Societal misperceptions often prevent young people with disabilities from making their own choices. These misperceptions of sexuality are reinforced in the media by their portrayal through an ableist lens. And even parents, in spite of their good intentions, sometimes perpetuate misperceptions by making decisions for their children about their lives.

Furthermore, there is limited sexual education for young people with disabilities, even though they are at much higher risk of sexual abuse and assault than young people without disabilities. “Many autistic people will engage in interpersonal relationships and, yes, [sexual relations]. Their educators, loved ones and parents can teach them how to do so safely, with the consent of all parties,” Eric Garcia writes in The Washington Post, by providing "proper information about relationships and personal boundaries from a young age.”