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So why are they frequently treated as though they are incapable of having sexual needs and desires, and are excluded from sexual health education curriculum?
According to Kehau Gunderson, the lead trainer and senior health educator at Health Connected, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing comprehensive sexual health education programs throughout the state of California, the sexual health and safety of students with disabilities is often not prioritized because educators are more focused on other aspects of the students’ well-being.
But it was the third health education specialist I spoke with, De Anna Quan, who really hit the nail on the head: “I think sometimes it also has to do with not having the materials and having trouble adapting the materials as well.
While people often just don’t see disabled people as being sexual beings, they are.
And what if disabled people were understood to be both subjects and objects of a multiplicity of erotic desires and practices, both within and outside the parameters of heteronormative sexuality?
”When it comes to disability and sexuality, a large part of the issue lies in the fact that disabled people are so infrequently included in the decisions made about their bodies, their education, and their care.
Though roughly 15% of adults around the world (that’s nearly one billion people), and over 20 million adults in the U. between the ages of 18 and 64 have a disability, when it comes to disability and sex, there’s a disconnect.
When these students are included in mainstream health courses, the curriculum is often inaccessible.
And this is a population who really needs this information.”The complete lack of sexual education in many schools for students with disabilities is particularly alarming given the fact that individuals with disabilities are at a much higher risk of sexual assault and abuse.
In fact, children with disabilities are up to four times more likely to face abuse and women with disabilities are nearly 40% more likely to face abuse in adulthood.
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Growing up in Oregon, Kirsten said she was homeschooled until the age of 13 and didn’t begin seeing medical professionals regularly until she turned 21.