Life and Work Connections

Plain Talk About Sex

April 5, 2015
Photo of speaker standing in front of seated group
Guest speaker Felix from True North facilitates frank discussion about sexual assault and other types of abuse. Part of True North’s mission is “to affect social change by providing opportunities for individuals to realize and participate in the community’s responsibility to end domestic and sexual violence.”

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) face high risks for victimization and sexual assault.  Some studies indicate that within their lifetimes, over 80% of women and over 30% of men with I/DD will be sexually assaulted.

A course offered this spring through Transition Network hopes to knock some wind out of those statistics — recognizing that education is the key to a safe, healthy, fulfilling life.

The Plain Talk About Sex course uses a curriculum entitled “Sexuality Education for Adults with Developmental Disabilities” — a cognitively accessible, 20-lesson series intended to build awareness around healthy relationships and sexuality.  Seven students are enrolled in the current class, which we intend to offer each semester for as long as there is interest.

Maureen Johnson, a community skills specialist for Life & Work Connections, organizes and facilitates the course, which is taught in a classroom at Columbia College.  Augmenting her efforts are staff members from True North — a comprehensive domestic and sexual violence victim service program.

“The purpose of Plain Talk About Sex class,” says Maureen, “is to offer age and culturally appropriate relationship and sexual health information in a safe environment for participants, to help them learn how to have healthy relationships; to help them learn to make informed, healthy choices; and to help them learn to protect themselves from situations that place them at risk for abuse and exploitation. People with disabilities have a right to access sexual information and education. This is how they will learn more about themselves and the kinds of relationships they want or don’t want.”

Want to learn more about Transition Network? Contact Life & Work Connections Supervisor, Renee Carter, or your BCFR Support Coordinator at 573-874-1995 to find out about eligibility.