Sexuality education

This morning while we were in town a friend who happens to have a disability came to give me a hug, then went to hug the man (Dude's trainer) standing next to me, whom she hadn't met before. I asked her to remember what sort greetings are OK to use when we don't know a person, and she shook his hand instead.
Afterwards the guy said to me, "It's just a hug, it's no big deal", to which I responded with "Would you hug someone you were meeting for the first time?". He said that HE wouldn't, but SHE is 'special' and it's not like a hug means anything to her. We continued to have a conversation about people with a disability and sexuality, during which he admitted he doesn't see these people as sexual beings and couldn't understand why I do sexuality education programs when "they don't have sex anyway".

Just to be clear, by 'sexuality' I don't mean the act of having sex. Sexuality is who we are, not what we do and sexuality education is not just about sex - It's about relationships, emotions, how to express ourselves, public and private body parts, public and private acts and places, good touch and bad touch, self protection and so many other things.
If nothing else, surely sexuality education in the form of self protection is important. I understand that not everyone is willing to see all people as sexual beings, and that's OK. What I don't understand is why we can't acknowledge that EVERYONE has a right to knowledge and education, and most importantly, to be safe. This is currently not the case. In fact, here are some vary scary stats:
  • People with a disability are 3 times more likely to be physically assaulted.
  • People with a disability are 10 times more likely to be sexually assaulted.
  • Almost one third of perpetrators are service providers (people working as carers, teachers, staff in respite centres etc).
  • Up to 83% of women with a disability will be sexually assaulted. That's more than 8 in 10.
  • It is likely there are more cases of abuse that have not been reported.
How can we pretend there isn't a need for education (if nothing else) with these kind of statistics?


jeanie said...

So true, A. In a way, it is even more important - as it is very important for our children to learn "appropriateness" so that they can be the sort of adults to pass on this knowledge through society.

Lin said...

To be honest, I probably wouldn't have thought anything wrong with a person with a disability hugging me on our first introduction. But now I will!

I do understand that people with a disability can also have sexual feelings and that that is a topic that should not be shunned when you work with these young people. I had no knowledge of that statistic though which is absolutely appaling.

Megan at imaginif said...

Terrific post and I will link to it at some stage soon.

cerebralmum said...

I was just about to say exactly the same thing as Megan. I see she got in before me.

This really is a great post, with an important message. Sexual education is very important for everyone, and all the more so for those with disabilities which can make them more vulnerable.

A said...

This is another one of those issues that needs aware and gutsy people like yourselves to be proactive by spreading the word and teaching by example.