Widely held beliefs about the sexuality of individuals with disabilities are based upon myths of their asexuality and lack of need for physical intimacy, among other misconceptions. However, research shows that young individuals with disabilities are sexually active and that they are at a high risk for unsafe sexual practices. Inequitable access to sexuality education, coupled with erroneous assumptions of teachers and caregivers, puts students with disabilities at a greater risk for unsafe sexual practices and sexual abuse. Americans with disabilities are more than three times as likely to be victims of rape/sexual assault as those without disabilities, with individuals who have cognitive disabilities bearing the highest level of risk.
It is critical to examine the current practice implemented in schools as well as educators' perceptions of and preparation in sexuality education for the students with disabilities in order to enhance students' sexual health literacy and sexual advocacy. Based upon findings of the study, effective interventions for advancing sexual health literacy among students with disabilities can be developed. The findings will inform the cultivation of school culture for more comprehensive sexuality education for students with disabilities and form the basis for development of an effective sexuality training curricula for students with disabilities in collaboration with educators, students, and parents.
The Center for Health Equity in collaboration with the Indiana Resource Center for Autism aims to increase the capacity of Indiana educators to advance the sexual health literacy of their students with disabilities. The purpose of the project is to determine Indiana educators’ perceptions and current practice regarding the delivery of sexuality education to students with disabilities. This project will conduct an electronic survey of educators in primary and secondary education in Indiana.