New Study Shows Special Needs Students Have Been Left Behind in Sex Ed Classrooms

by Intern Lauren

The birds-and-the-bees conversation between parents and teens isn’t exactly the easiest topic to discuss at the dinner table, though we all know it’s a vital rite of passage to growing up. But what about the teens with special needs? A new study reveals that not only do they have a limited knowledge of sex, but many have some alarming misconceptions regarding human sexuality.

The study’s lead researcher Ruth Garbutt found that several students believed gay sex was illegal or weren’t aware that sexual abuse is an offense that’s investigated by police. Some were even completely uninformed that sex can lead to pregnancy. Are we forgetting that at some point or another, topics within sexuality like pregnancy, sex, puberty, and relationships will affect all students, regardless if they’re a special needs student or not?

In addition, parents and teachers alike shared that some special needs students were frightened and confused by puberty, and girls were both unprepared and unable to deal with menstruation when it happened—a grisly scene, I’m sure, to a girl who is unaware of what’s happening to her body.

Though the study found that there were a few, but a limited amount of, resources available to students regarding sexuality, the information was not tailored to questions and concerns to those of a special needs student. As a result, parents of students in the study said their teens turned to TV soap operas as a learning tool. The fact that some poor soul may have been driven to use the overly dramatic acting from “The Bold and the Beautiful” as a guide to anything regarding life in general, but especially sex, is completely cringe-worthy and slightly tear-inducing.

So, how can we dispell the myths and put a stop to all the confusion? The Big Lottery Fund’s Health and Social Research Grant Programme proposes that youth/after-school clubs, which teach comprehensive sex education at a pace that’s comfortable to learning-disabled youth, is a great starting point to putting an end to the prevailing myths of sexuality among special needs students. And providing reliable information about sexuality to special needs students, which is currently severely lacking, sure wouldn’t hurt, either.

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