People with disabilities should have control over their own lives.
Most people agree with this statement. Practically everyone who works in the disability field feels that self-determination is the key to a successful and independent life. We encourage learning to travel alone, managing your money, taking charge of your health care, and more. However as soon as one subject comes up that people with disabilities want to learn more about, there is a scramble to make sure that it is censored. That subject is…. sex!
Those of us with disabilities are no less interested in sex than the general population; We are, often however, less educated about sex. Often times sex education in schools is left out of special education classrooms. People who are injured are often not told about the changes in their sex lives in rehab, other than to adjust their expectations, whatever that means!
I completed my thesis on sex for people with spinal cord injuries and cerebral palsy. Here at the IMAGE Center I designed a presentation on sex, dating and disabilities that is accessible, interesting and honest. The presentation has been well received by consumers and people who work with them. Caseworkers have told me about consumers who have tried to pay for sex or racked up huge credit card bills on porn sites or have never had a sexual experience or romantic relationship.
You would think that organizations that hold themselves out as meeting the needs of adults with disabilities would want to inform their consumers about this extremely important part of life.
But, here at the IMAGE Center we don’t always find this to be true. Management in some organizations, usually people without disabilities, gets spooked when it comes to talking about sex and dating. They either cancel the presentation or try to tell us which information we can present—even going so far as to tell us which slides should be eliminated. And, these are presentations to adults.
This ongoing attempt to censor our presentation reeks of paternalism. People with disabilities, who are all over the age of 18, have every right to make the decisions about what they would like to learn about sex and dating. At the IMAGE Center we believe strongly that adults need this information in order to prevent assault and abuse, and, to live more full and fulfilled lives.
People with disabilities have the right to information and if we are serious about promoting independence then we have to acknowledge sex.
With nearly universal access to the Internet, people will get information, some useful and a lot not! The value of my presentation is my information is accurate, accessible and I am willing to answer questions.
Please join me for my presentation at The IMAGE Center for People with Disabilities on June 12th at 6pm. Click here for more information and to RSVP.