NYC Special Education Schools Incorporates Sex Ed In Mission

Teachers need to create an environment that is comfortable and without shame when discussing sex.

"It's easier to reinforce positive behavior than to shame people when they're doing something wrong," said Stevens.

There is this idea that people with intellectual disabilities aren't going to be sexual, she said, but pleasure, including masturbation, is a right for all people, and that idea should be taught in an appropriate way within sexual education.

There also tends to be a public perception that, if we teach any type of person about sexuality, they're immediately going to act upon it, said Stevens. In particular, with people with intellectual disabilities, there is "a lot of fear that it's going to be uncontrollable and the public needs to control their most vulnerable citizens."

"Intellectual disabilities get wrapped up in the fear that people will take advantage of them," said Stevens. "This is a legitimate fear, but we also have a right to say 'yes' as much as we have a right to say 'no.'"

For more information regarding sexuality in people with intellectual disabilities, Stevens recommends visiting the website of the Sexuality & Disability Consortium with the Institute on Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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