12 Sex Education and Young Adults with Intellectual Disabilities: Crisis Response, Sexual Diversity, and Pleasure - Michael Gill 171
In this chapter, sex education for individuals with intellectual disabilities in the United States is explored; historical changes, contents, and overall messages about appropriate sexuality are discussed.1 Generally, battles around providing comprehensive sex education for school-age children and adolescents illustrate ideological divisions in the U.S. stemming from different viewpoints regarding appropriate (read: normal) expressions of sexuality. The Christian Right, com- prised of conservative Catholics and Christian evangelicals, has rallied against comprehensive sex education in their rise to political power in the U.S. over the last 40 years (Irvine, 2002, p. 3). In contrast, since the 1960s the Sex Informa- tion and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) has argued for more comprehensive sex education including a discussion of sex as pleasurable and not merely reproductive (Irvine, 2002, pp. 17–34). This chapter takes up the histori- cal debate about sex education as the background to discuss sex education for people with intellectual disabilities. While at times the content of sex education for individuals with intellectual disabilities can look quite different than educa- tion aimed at a non-disabled cohort, a comparison between sex educations for both populations of individuals allows for a nuanced understanding of sexuality for people with intellectual disabilities. Abstinence-only education has become the most widely used approach for non-disabled and disabled students in class- rooms across the U.S. (Fields, 2008; Irvine, 2002; Tepper, 2000). Sex education that meaningfully incorporates a discussion of homosexuality and bisexuality is TWELVE Sex Education and Young Adults with Intellectual Disabilities: Crisis Response,...
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