Sexuality and Healthy Relationships
Many students with disabilities have been told they will never be able to have a relationship or engage in sexual activity. Other students have been told they will not be a good match for relationships or they have “more important things to think about” other than sex. Sometimes students have been told they should feel “lucky if someone wants them” or they are "not capable of being a sexual being." Other students have histories of frustrating interactions and/or relationships with others and don’t feel as though they are in control of how their disability affects their experiences.
Often sexuality resources or education does not take into account ability status or how disability may affect sexual activity, communication and perceptions of self and self in relationships. If you are interested in writing a piece for our column, SEXABILITY, please let us know! We’ll keep feedback confidential and anonymous. We want student voices and if you want to submit a question, topic you’d like to read more about, suggest a name for the column or give us feedback, please email Dr. Teresa Davenport or Rachel Green. We’d love to hear from you!
How did DRES decide to have a visible presence in the areas of disability and sexuality?
In 2012, a small task force began noticing consistent concerns that were being brought to our clinical professionals in the areas of relationships and sexuality. They began collaborating with the sexual health educator, Kim Rice, at McKinley Health Center, to develop a needs survey to assess the specific relationship and sexuality needs of DRES students. The student and staff response to the survey was substantial, and overwhelmingly positive. Our students have informed us that beginning the conversation of sexuality and relationships was empowering, enlightening and in some cases, the only time anyone has ever spoken with them about their wants, needs, desires and questions. We continue to find including relationship and sexuality topics in our conversations and programming have had enormous benefits for our students and ourselves as we intend to provide competent and collaborative services.