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Sexuality and Disability

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 93–111 | Cite as

Sexuality and people with intellectual disabilities: A historical perspective

  • Winifred Kempton
  • Emily Kahn
Article

Abstract

Until the 1960s, the sexuality of people with mental retardation was handled by denial and suppression. The eugenics movement of 1880–1940 led to forced mass sterilization and the segregation of these members of our society. The civil rights movement and the “sexual revolution” were among the catalysts for change as was the move toward normalization and deinstitutionalization of people with mental retardation. In the last 25 years, parents and professionals have begun to work together to find ways to help mentally handicapped individuals to understand their sexuality and to engage in appropriate self-affirming sexual behaviors. We have established goals, guidelines, and curricula for sexuality education. We have trained parents and staff and developed policies for handling sensitive issues, such as sterilization and problematic sexual expression. The AIDS epidemic has provided new impetus for improving education and training in this emerging field.

Key words

history sexuality developmental disability 

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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Winifred Kempton
    • 3
  • Emily Kahn
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Hall-Mercer Mental Health/Mental Retardation CenterPhiladelphia
  2. 2.Health EducationTemple UniversityPhiladelphia
  3. 3.Haverford

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