4th August, 2008

Today, FPA launches It’s My Right! – a groundbreaking campaign for Sexual Health Week [1], about the rights of people with learning disabilities to have sex and relationships. As part of the week FPA is releasing the results of surveys of people with learning disabilities and professionals [2] working with people with learning disabilities.

Out of 78 surveys returned from professionals working with people with learning disabilities, 94 per cent thought barriers existed preventing people with learning disabilities from having sex and relationships.

In the survey of people with learning disabilities, 63 per cent said they wanted to know more about sex and relationships. Of those over a third (38 per cent) thought it was society’s attitudes towards the sexuality of people with learning disabilities that was the main cause of the barrier. It is these prejudices that has inspired the It’s My Right! campaign to challenge existing attitudes and show that people with learning disabilities have a right to sex and relationships. From the small sample polled, 60 per cent of professionals said they started doing this work themselves on a pro-active basis.

Julie Bentley, Chief Executive, FPA said:
“This shows that giving people with learning disabilities the right to have sex and relationships is really important for professionals. This information should help those working at a strategic level support people with learning disabilities have an independent life.”

People with learning disabilities have sexual needs and desires but as FPA’s work shows[3], too often they are denied the information, education and opportunity to pursue relationships. To fill this gap, FPA has produced a pioneering interactive CD-ROM [4], [5] – the first of its kind – on sex, sexuality and relationships[6] as well as a set of stunning posters[7] for the week.

The new interactive CD-ROM All about us provides information on sex, relationships and sexual orientation. It’s suitable for people with mild to moderate learning disabilities including older children, teenagers and adults and covers understanding emotions, keeping safe, what it means to become an adult and appropriate behaviour in public and private spaces.

Julie Bentley, Chief Executive, FPA said: “Living independently means more than getting qualifications and securing a job. Expressing your sexuality and enjoying a relationship is something everyone values. But poor sex education and fears about exploitation can stand in the way of this happening for people with learning disabilities.

“Information and skills must be available to people with learning disabilities so they can enjoy intimate relationships without putting themselves at risk. And FPA would like to see more recognition of the importance of sex and relationships in their lives.

“We must work together to help provide people with learning disabilities with the information, education and opportunity to have sex and relationships.”

- ENDS -

Disability