Sex Ed Series Module 6: Creating an Inclusive Sex Education Program
Length * 59:07
Speakers (in order of appearance)
Linda Sandman, Adam Davies, Jess Jankowski, Billy Clymo, Eddie Harriel
Linda Sandman 00:00
Welcome to the seventh module in the training series "What's Right about Sex Ed", designed to help you and others in your organization provide sexuality education to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The title of this module is "Creating an Inclusive Sex Education Program".
This training, and the other modules in the "What's Right about Sex Ed" series are being brought to you by Blue Tower Solutions, and the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities. Blue Tower Solutions is a nonprofit organization that works to empower individuals, organizations and systems to create cultures of respect, inclusion, dignity and equality for people with disabilities. The Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities' mission is to help lead change in Illinois so all people with developmental disabilities exercise their right to equal opportunity and freedom.
The training series on sex education, "What's Right about Sex Ed" contains eight modules. These modules cover information about the law (module one), the sexual rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, (module two), and how to be a sexuality educator (modules three and four). Module five, focused on providing trauma-informed sex education. Module six looked at how to build a sex ed program, walking you through some sample scenarios, and giving you tools to design a program that best fit the individual's interests and needs. This module, number seven continues this work by providing guidance on how to create an inclusive sexuality education program. The final module, module eight will address strategies for partnering with parents and guardians to support sex education. Expert speakers from around the state and country including self-advocates are involved in presenting the information. All the trainings are posted to the Department of Human Services Developmental Disability Provider Training platform, and they can be viewed as often as needed. If you have any questions about this training series, my contact information is posted at the end of each training module. Please feel free to reach out to me.
Linda Sandman 02:51
Today's speakers are Adam Davies, Jess Jankowski, and myself, Linda Sandman. Adam, would you like to introduce yourself?
Adam Davies 03:01
Yeah, sure. Hi, everyone. My name is Adam Davies. I use they/them pronouns. And I work as a Coordinator for Youth Engagements, and as a Health Educator for the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago. And so a huge part of my role is that I teach sexual health education that's specific and tailored to trans and intersex folks in gender and sexuality alliances in Illinois, and I work in a clinic with youth who are intersex or have differences of sex development.
Linda Sandman 03:34
Awesome. Thanks so much, Adam. Jess, would you like to introduce yourself?
Jess Jankowski 03:39
Yes! Hi all, my name is Jess Jankowski and my pronouns are they/them. I'm a licensed social worker and work as a clinician doing psychotherapy with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities at JCFS Chicago.
Linda Sandman 03:53
Great. Thanks so much, Jess. And as for myself, Linda Sandman, my pronouns are she/her. I am a social worker and I work with Blue Towers Solutions. In addition, I am bilingual in English and Spanish and bicultural. Advocating for access to sexuality education for people with disabilities has been an incredibly meaningful part of my work for the past 10 years. In 2017, I had the honor of being a project consultant for Proud and Included. The goal of that project was to build community among individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who identified as LGBTQ+. I had the opportunity to work alongside self-advocate ambassadors, who showed incredible leadership over the course of the project. Two of those ambassadors, Billy Clymo and Eddie Harriel contributed to this module. You'll see their videos in a little while. I'm sure you will also learn a great deal from their stories and their advocacy.
Today's training includes three handouts. One handout is called "Supporting LGBTQ+ Individuals with I/DD". This handout comes from Elevatus Training, one of the approved curricula by the Illinois Department of Human Services. We recommend that you print this handout for use in an activity a little bit later in the training today. The second handout is a Resource list, and the third contains the Bios for today's presenters.
So what do we mean by inclusion? Well, a definition here: the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized. Illinois Public Act 101-0506 addresses inclusion because it ensures people with IDD who receive services through the Department of Human Services have access to sex education. As we've talked about in previous modules, access to sex education was often limited or outright denied to many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities over their lifetime. In the "What's Right about Sex Ed" training series, we've addressed the importance of including culturally and racially diverse voices and images in sex education curriculum materials. We've also tried to model this through having a diverse mix of speakers, including self-advocates, who have presented in each of the modules. For this module, we are going to specifically focus on how to include the needs and concerns of LGBTQ+ individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in sex education.
So I'd like to start with a story. When I worked at a clinic that served people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, we saw in counseling a middle aged man, who was referred by his provider organization. The reason stated for the referral was that the man experienced depression and had suicidal thoughts. When we interviewed Jorge, we learned that he had a mild intellectual disability was adopted as a child, and that his mother was his legal guardian. He lived at home and he attended a Community Day Services program. Another thing that we learned about Jorge was he was gay. He wanted a relationship, a boyfriend. He wanted love and affection. He wanted to be himself. So why was Jorge depressed? Well, we learned his mother was very opposed to homosexuality. She believed it was a sin. And she told Jorge that he was going to be punished by God because he was gay. This caused a great deal of pain for Jorge, and for his mother. Jorge loved and respected his mother. He did not want to disappoint her or cause her pain. This led to the suicidal thoughts. Jorge was feeling trapped. Yet at the same time, he was a human being, with sexual feelings and a desire to be in a relationship. He used the internet to try and find a partner. As we learned more about Jorge's efforts to find a partner, we became worried that he might be taken advantage of. Some of the men that he was meeting online were asking him for money, or they wanted him to travel out of state to meet them. Jorge felt desperate. He felt he had few options, and he seriously considered running away to meet one of these men.
Linda Sandman 09:24
The story of Jorge brings to light, many of the struggles that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who identify as LGBTQ+ deal with. Finding affordable, accessible and inclusive health care, community services, and just generally spaces where they can be themselves and be accepted is challenging and rare. They face bullying and exclusion. Like Jorge, they may be discouraged or even shamed for who they love, and for how they express themselves. This can have a very real impact on their health and their well-being.
The data that you see on this slide comes from an article in the International Journal of Direct Support Professionals from 2017. We have included a link to that article on the Resource handout.
Did you know that 33% of gay men with developmental disabilities have reported sexual abuse? And 75% reported that they have engaged in risky sex? Did you know that 74% of people with developmental disabilities do not have knowledge of LGBTQ+ issues and 70% have negative attitudes towards individuals who identify as LGBTQ+? Did you know that many people with developmental disabilities who identify as LGBTQ+ have difficulty accepting their own identity?
You can make a real difference in the lives of people with developmental disabilities who identify as LGBTQ+. You can create an environment that is inclusive and welcoming. For many of you, this represents new areas of learning. I know it's not something that I learned about when I was in school. But I believe that education is a lifelong process. And so I'm very grateful to be joined today by Jess and Adam, and to hear from Billy and Eddie.
The federal government has also weighed in on this topic. The ACL is the Administration on Community Living and is the branch of government authorized under the DD Act that funds important programs in every state across the country. In Illinois, that includes the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities, Equip for Equality, and efforts to support community living and family supports. On this slide are statements from the ACL website that was posted during pride month last year in 2021. There was an article called "Celebrating and supporting LGBTQ+ people with intellectual and developmental disabilities". Here's what they said: "The ACL recognizes the challenge to equity and inclusion that are still faced by many in the LGBTQ+ community. These barriers can be particularly pervasive for LGBTQ+ people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who often feel out of place and both the LGBTQ+ and disability communities." "The ACL is committed to ensuring our programs and research reflect the true diversity of our country, and are responsive to the needs of all we serve."
We can all share in this commitment.
Linda Sandman 13:14
And in Illinois, the new law, Public Act 101-0506 also addresses inclusion and equity. So what does the law say?
"A person admitted to a developmental disability facility and receiving habilitation shall have access to sex education, related resources and treatment planning that supports his or her right to sexual health and healthy sexual practices and to be free from sexual exploitation and abuse."
I added the bold lettering to the text on this slide. In previous modules, we have talked about how people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have sexual rights: the right to sexual health and healthy sexual practices and to be free from sexual exploitation and abuse. The law does not say only straight people with developmental disabilities shall have access to sex education that supports their sexual rights. And what rights does the law address? The right to sexual health, to healthy sexual practices, to be free from sexual exploitation and abuse. We cannot keep creating conditions like Jorge experienced from the story I told you about earlier, where he felt isolated, alone, with no access to information or support. Jorge and all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities deserve opportunities to engage in healthy sexual practices and to be free from exploitation and abuse.
It's always important to listen to the voice of self-advocates. So we want to turn now to this video segment from Billy.
VIDEO: Billy Clymo 15:20 - 21:30 Inserted Video is captioned
Jess Jankowski 21:31
But what is needed for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities? These folks need accessible sexuality education that includes information about identity, including LGBTQ+ identities. They need accessible sexual health information that talks about how to care for one's body and uses inclusive language. And they need accessible and reliable sexuality education that includes information about diverse relationships and practices, just like everybody needs.
Sex education should include people of all backgrounds, abilities, and identities, including LGBTQ+ individuals. In Adam's words "Queer and trans inclusive sex ed is just sex ed done the right way." Before moving forward, I would like to provide a definition of sexual activity.
"Sexual activity is an expansive term, inclusive of a range of relationships, actions and topics. The assessment process should focus on a person's interest and understanding of the full spectrum of topics related to sexuality, including relationships, rights and responsibilities, sexual knowledge, masturbation, sexual health and safety, legal and illegal activities, risk factors, privacy, etc. The assessment process should not focus narrowly or exclusively on whether the person has an interest or capacity to consent to sexual intercourse with a partner. A person who may not fully understand the act of sexual intercourse and/or may not be found competent to consent to that activity may still have interest in exploring and/or engaging in a variety of activities or topics. Activities might include hand-holding, kissing and dating. Topics might include communication, boundary setting and personal values. The determination that a person currently lacks the capacity to consent to sexual intercourse should not limit a person's opportunities and other aspects of sexuality."
Jess Jankowski 23:38
You can be an ally to LGBTQ+ people by supporting inclusion and equality. To do so you should speak up. Say "I support LGBTQ+ people to be themselves and to be safe in their relationships and life." You should respond when someone says something unkind, puts down or excludes another because of who they are or who they love. You should act, by learning about language, identity and sexual health practices; and then by using that knowledge. For example, "My pronouns are they them, tell me yours."
Faith-based organizations are not exempt from supporting LGBTQ+ individuals. It is most important for faith-based organizations to operate within a culture of respect: respect of LGBTQ+ identities and sexualities. Just as you would like others to respect who you are, you must respect who the people you support are. Engaging community partners with expertise and working with LGBTQ+ individuals can be a great option for faith-based organizations. This way the individuals you support can learn from the experts and people with lived experience, as opposed to relaying secondhand knowledge.
Here's a video from self-advocate Eddie, whose pronouns are he/him about coming out.
VIDEO Eddie Harriel 25:05 - 26:56 Inserted video is captioned
Jess Jankowski 26:57
So first, we will discuss the identity aspect of the LGBTQ+ community.
Gender and sexuality are both part of your identity. Gender sometimes refers to your sex - female, intersex or male. Sex has to do with biology. It is determined by your chromosomes, genitalia and reproductive organs. Some people will say that your gender can be male (man) or female (woman). However, gender can be more complicated than that. Gender identity refers to your relationship with masculinity and femininity. It is how you feel inside. For some people, their sex matches their gender identity. That means that they feel like the gender that they were assigned by a doctor according to their sex when they were born. These people are called cisgender ("cis" meaning "near" in Latin). For other people, their sex does not match their gender identity. Some people are assigned one gender at birth, but feel like a different gender inside. These people are called transgender ("trans" meaning "across" in Latin). We will talk more about transgender gender identity on the next slide.
Gender expression is how you present yourself to others through clothes, haircut, makeup, jewelry and accessories. Gender expression can match your gender identity, but it does not have to.
Jess Jankowski 28:24
As we said on the previous slide cisgender is the gender identity describing people who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. Transgender is the gender identity describing people who identify with a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth. Non-binary describes people who do not identify exclusively as male or female. Transgender and non-binary are both umbrella terms. They correspond to identity and not body parts.
Transgender is an adjective, not a noun or a verb. It would be incorrect to say "she's a transgender," "she has become transgender or transgendered" or "a transgendered person" The correct way to identify someone as transgender is to say "she is transgender" or "a transgender person." These are some symbols representing different gender identities. Don't know what all these symbols mean? Neither do I. Gender identity is fluid and expansive. It is not possible to know all of the gender identities in existence, and that's okay.
As we have learned, being transgender means that your gender identity does not match the gender that was assigned to you by a doctor when you were born. If we think of transgender identities as one category, there are two smaller categories within it: binary and non-binary. Binary ("bi" meaning "two" in Latin) transgender people were either assigned male at birth but their gender identity is female, were assigned female at birth but their gender identity is male, or were assigned intersex at birth but their gender identity is male or female. People in this category who identify as women are called transwomen, and people in this category who identify as men are called transmen. They can also just be called women and men because that's what they are! Transwomen and transmen are in the binary transgender category.
Non-binary transgender people were assigned female, intersex, or male at birth, but their gender identity is neither female nor male. They might identify as both male and female or neither male nor female. As discussed previously, there are many categories of gender in the non-binary category, including genderqueer, agender, genderfluid, bigender, and more. Remember, it's okay not to know them all! What's most important is to be open to learning about them.
Pronouns are the words we ref, use to refer to someone rather than their name. Examples of pronouns include he/him, she/her, and they/them. Additionally, there are neopronouns such as ze/zir and xe/xem, which have been created in recent years. Pronouns help us align with our gender identity. It is important not to assume someone's pronouns based on their gender expression.
It is okay to ask people what pronouns they use, but this should be done respectfully. An example of how to do this, if you're meeting someone for the first time, is to say, "Hi, my name is Jess and my pronouns are they/them. What's your name and pronouns?"
Although it might seem strange to use "they" for one person, we use the pronoun "they" in the singular form all the time. For example, if someone left their phone at a restaurant and you didn't know who it was, you might give it to an employee and say, "someone left their phone here, I hope they come back to get it or that you're able to get ahold of them."
Jess Jankowski 32:03
If you make a mistake, that's totally okay. This takes some getting used to! It's really important to first thank the person for correcting you. If a person chooses to tell you that you messed up their or someone else's pronouns, they're doing you a favor, and so thanking them is appropriate. If no one corrects you, but you realize you've made a mistake, you may briefly apologize, but this can be uncomfortable for the trans person. You should then quickly correct yourself. (For example, "she, oops, I mean he") and move on and practice later. Practice is so important. It's okay to make mistakes, but you should be putting in the effort to make sure that you're affirming someone's pronouns. You can practice by yourself or with a friend.
Now that we've talked about gender, let's discuss sexuality. Sexuality is another aspect of identity. Your sexual orientation is determined by who you are attracted to or who you like. There are many sexualities, including queer, gay, straight, bisexual, and pansexual. Just like gender identities, it is okay not to know what all of them mean. What matters is your openness to learning about them.
Queer is a term that can mean any sexual orientation besides straight. It can also be used for people who identify as transgender or non-binary. Basically, anyone who's not both straight and cisgender can use the term queer. In the past, "queer" has been used as a pejorative or to put people down or bully them. But a lot of LGBTQ+-identified folks are reclaiming that term. So if someone tells you that you can use the word "queer" when describing them, you can, otherwise don't use the word queer for LGBTQ+ people without asking them first.
At the bottom of this slide, you can see there's a Venn diagram. It looks this way because sexuality and gender identity do not overlap. Sexuality is who you are attracted to and gender identity is who you are - the two are different.
Let's use self-advocate, Eddie Harriel - who uses he/him pronouns - as an example. Eddie identifies as gay - that's his sexual orientation. He also identifies as a man - that's his gender identity. Eddie likes to wear makeup, dresses, bright colors and jewelry. These are aspects of his gender expression. These three parts of Eddie's identity - sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression are not related. They're just who he is.
Adam Davies 34:37
So now we're going to discuss how to talk about sexual health and bodies in an inclusive way.
There are a lot of different ways that bodies can look, function, and develop. Everyone's body looks different, and these differences, in what we would call development, can apply to what we would consider sex characteristics as well.
Intersex is a term or a word that someone might use to describe having a variation in sex characteristics. And if you don't kind of know what I'm talking about yet, I'm going to go into that in a little bit more detail on the next slide. There are some intersex variations that may be more likely to occur with intellectual or developmental disabilities, like Turner syndrome, where someone only has 1x chromosome, or Klinfelter syndrome, where someone has two or more X chromosomes and a Y chromosome.
There are a lot of resources and support for intersex people, including different support and advocacy groups throughout the US, like InterConnect or interACT. These could be great resources if people who are intersex have more questions, or are looking for support. And they should be listed on our Resource list.
Adam Davies 35:53
For people who are intersex, they generally have some differences in things like chromosomes, hormones, genitals, or reproductive organs. Having differences in hormones could lead to differences in the way that someone goes through puberty (it might look different from what is expected) or in what we would call secondary sex characteristics - things like facial hair, body hair, fat distribution, or voice pitch. People who are intersex are normal and are healthy.
This is an example of a participant facing slide that we might use in a sex education class that's learning about bodies or puberty. It helps set the stage and prepare participants for what they're going to be learning about. I'm going to model how I might facilitate this slide to a class of participants.
We always encourage people to get information about all different types of bodies. And we do that for a few reasons. The first of which is that you can't tell what type of body parts someone might have, just by looking at them. And we might make some people uncomfortable, or not interested in learning about their bodies, especially trans or intersex people, if we separated just by looking at them.
The second reason is that it's really good for all people to learn about all different body parts. Someone might have a younger sibling, a niece or a nephew or another person in their life, who they might be able to help if they know about body parts that are different from their own.
You're also going to hear me say the words "many" or "most" when I talk about bodies. That's because everybody's bodies are different and body parts can have different shapes, sizes, colors and functions for each person. If you have any questions about your body, those are really great to ask a doctor or another health care provider.
And I always stress, right? - individual personal questions about bodies are best answered by a healthcare provider and not a sexual health educator.
You're also going to hear me use phrases like "people who menstruate" or "people with penises". The other option is that we gender those terms. So instead of saying people who menstruate saying "women", but when we gender them, we aren't being the most accurate or the most inclusive. There are a lot of women who don't menstruate, and there are a lot of people who menstruate who don't identify as women. So, we're going to use more specific terms to be as accurate as possible.
We're also going to use "sciency", or medical terms to talk about body parts, because those are important to know if someone is hurt or has questions and needs to communicate with a doctor or healthcare provider. But you are the expert on your own body and identity. So you get to choose which words feel best to describe your body.
And I make sure to kind of stress that to participants, so that they know, right? - that they can use their own words, but they should know these more "sciency" words as well.
Adam Davies 39:15
This is an example of a matching activity that someone might do with participants that's going through and explaining different body parts. This one would specifically be explaining the body parts or anatomy for people who have testicles. I'm going to quickly model how I might talk about some of these body parts in a gender inclusive way. I might say something like:
Most people with testicles and a penis have a seminal vesicle and the seminal vesicle produces a whitish fluid called semen. This semen combines with sperm, which for most people is produced in the testicles, and then travels up through the vas deferens to reach the seminal vesicle.
And using that inclusive language of "many" or "most" when talking about each of those body parts.
A lot of what safe sex is, also comes down to consent and communication. And that is true for people who are LGBTQ. But it's also true for all people. Everyone should have the right to decide what they do or don't feel comfortable with when it comes to sex, including terms that they want used for their body parts, terms that they want used for them and their partners, parts of their body that they do or don't want touched, and sexual activities they want to do or are nervous about.
I like to introduce the green, yellow and red light system for participants as a helpful way to think about what they might want to do when it comes to sex. Green lights are things people know that they like. So they've tried them and they know that they like them. Yellow lights are things people aren't sure about and they want to try out, knowing that they get to say no to that activity at any time. And red lights are things that people never want to try or they know that they don't like.
So now we are going to introduce some strategies and resources that might be helpful when teaching sexual health education that is inclusive of trans and LGBTQ people.
And this is a quote from Admiral Rachel L. Levine, the Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. And she was appointed by President Biden and confirmed by the US Senate and is in charge of improving the health and well-being of all Americans. She is also the first openly transgender person to win confirmation in the US Senate and to be appointed as head of the US Public Health Services Commissioned Corps.
In an interview Dr. Levine spoke about LGBTQ rights and stated
"Transgender youth are very vulnerable." She said "They are vulnerable to being bullied, to discrimination and harassment." Sensitive and supportive care has overwhelmingly positive outcomes. She said, "There's so much evidence that trans youth, when they are supported by their family and community and receive the standards of care treatment, they have excellent physical and mental health outcomes." By contrast, "Trans youth who are not accepted, do not have support from family or community, do not have access to the standards of care treatment, have big mental health issues. So we need to empower transgender youth. We need to nurture them, not discriminate against them."
Adam Davies 42:58
We would like to show you the NCIL video from the series "Sex Ed for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Sex, Gender, and Genitals". This is one of the approved curriculum by the state and would be a really good introduction video for someone who is interested in learning a little bit more about body parts and gender identity.
VIDEO Bodies: Your Sex, Gender and Genitals (NCIL Sex Ed for people with IDD)
43:26 - 45:59 INSERTED VIDEO IS CAPTIONED
Adam Davies 46:00
The previous video we played might also work really well with this activity as well. We wanted to kind of suggest an activity that allows participants to explore a little bit more about their sexuality. So this activity is specifically from the WEAVE curriculum, which is another approved curriculum. And it asks participants to think about what kind of person they're attracted to, and kind of, how they know what a person is like and whether a person is attracted to you. It also asks participants to think about things like their sex or sex assigned at birth - which is language that we would adapt or substitute in for question three. So, instead of asking about biological sex, we would ask: My sex or my sex assigned at birth is ________. And it asks participants to think about their gender identity and sexual orientation as well.
Linda Sandman 47:04
For this activity, we will use the handout from Elevatus Training, called "Supporting LGBTQ+ individuals with IDD". If you haven't already located it from the training website, I encourage you to do that now. Please read through the entire handout first.
And then for the first section, "Messages we want to send", give yourself a rating between one to three for how prepared you feel to communicate these messages - with one being "not prepared"; two being "somewhat prepared"; and three being "very prepared".
The next part of the activity is to look at the section "Responses to support LGBTQ individuals", which covers the remainder of the handout. Read the statements in bold, and then practice saying out loud the suggested responses. You could put a checkmark by any that you especially like and feel comfortable saying.
Please pause this recording so you can do this activity. And if you are taking this training as part of a group, you may want to practice saying the statements to each other, like in a roleplay.
(PAUSE RECORDING FOR ACTIVITY)
Linda Sandman 48:36
Okay, welcome back. I hope you found that helpful. Consider your reactions to this activity. Maybe write out any questions that you have. What were some areas where you felt like you could use more practice? Saying things out loud is a great way to gain comfort and confidence. These are conversations we may not have experience with. So practicing can help. Just like Jess was talking about earlier. You can use the Resource handout to help you learn more. Remember the qualities of a good sex educator: being knowledgeable and informed, having skills, treating everyone with respect, and understanding values, both personal values and universal values.
The example shown on this slide and the next comes from one of the approved resources, a website called Real Talk from Canada, run by a sex educator named John Woods, who has worked extensively with people with IDD. On the website, you can browse by topic area and one area is "Sexual Identity". This comic book that you see here on the screen is an example of a resource under the "Sexual Identity" topic. I'm going to read the slide since the print is kind of small.
Hi, I'm Dee. I'm into anime, science fiction, shows and coffee. I have autism so I process information differently from a lot of folks. Sometimes it's about my sense of touch. There are some fabrics that I just can't stand feeling on my skin. Also, I really hate getting hugs, especially if I don't know the person well.
The comic continues on the next slide.
I never really felt like "woman" or "girl" described me properly. When I talked to people about it, they said it was because of my autism. Or they'd say I didn't like to wear a dress because of the fabric - not because it was a dress. Now I'm finding out more about others who also don't fit the words "woman" or "man".
As you can see, this story uses personal examples in a storytelling fashion, with easy-to-understand drawings. There are questions asked to help readers think about their own story and questions, like in the pink bubble on this slide. "Does this sound familiar? Do people ever use words to describe you that don't feel right?"
Using a comic book like this is a form of social story, and it can appeal to different types of learning styles. We don't have time to show the whole comic here. But it continues with Dee finding others who feel the same and exploring resources to learn more. Dee continues to learn about identity. And the comic continues to ask thought-provoking questions like "What would you like to learn about?" And "Do you ever feel attracted to people? How do you let them know?"
For those who don't read? The Real Talk website includes a video version of the same comic, but with narration.
This is just one example from the extensive educational materials on the Real Talk website. The site maintains an affirmative stance on the sexuality of people with IDD. Here is the statement from their website that shows their universal value.
"Every human being whether sexually active or not, has a sexuality. It's part of being human. Sexuality can bring connection, isolation, joy, trauma, pleasure, guilt, excitement. Often it's a combination of things. What if we affirmed this experience instead of avoiding the subject?"
This is really what Public Law 101-0506 is all about - affirming that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are sexual beings, and that they have the right to access information and to express their humanity, their sexuality.
Adam Davies 53:40
There's no one way to do this - to build a sex education program and provide developmentally appropriate sex education. Individuals are unique. There is no curriculum or resources that will fit all the needs. Organizations and programs also vary in size, staffing, their mission statement and location. Hopefully, this module has helped you think through some ideas on how you can build a quality sex education program, and how you can support individuals with disabilities and their efforts to learn about relationships, their bodies and sexuality.
If you are talking about identity and bodies, one of your participants may choose to come out to you. If that happens, the first thing you're gonna want to do is take a deep breath. If they choose to come out to you, that means that they recognize you as a safe person in their life to tap, and that's a good thing. You can pat yourself on the back for that, afterwards, and for making that person feel safe enough. You're always going to want to take their identity and expression seriously, even if they're questioning or exploring different identity. Questioning is when someone isn't sure and is still exploring what their gender identity or sexual orientation might be. You can support them in learning about and exploring what feels most comfortable for them. For example, wearing different clothing, thinking through who they might be attracted to, trying out a different name and pronouns.
You're never going to want to disclose someone's identity without their consent to anyone else - this includes other staff you work with, that person's therapist or medical provider, and even their parents or family. It's that person's choice on who to tell and at what time. You might want to ask them, "Who knows so far?" "Have you thought about other people who you want to tell and how you might do that?" Then ask them what the best ways are for you to support them. Maybe they just wanted to tell you, maybe they want to try out a different name and pronouns with you. Or maybe they want your help accessing resources or a counselor to talk to about this. You don't know, so ask!
If someone tells you that they don't want to tell their family because they don't think it's safe, take them at their word. I used to work at a DV shelter and one of the things we talked about was how people who experienced DV or domestic violence are always the best expert on their home and what is safe for them. Similarly, the person coming out is always going to know best whether talking to their family is safe or not, and you should take them at their word, even if you are friends or have a good relationship with their family and think that they would be accepting. Lastly, it may be important to safety plan someone. If they want to come out, ask them, "Is it safe to come out at home? Will your parents be accepting? Is there anything you're concerned about or you anticipate might come up?"
For some people, they'll know that won't be an issue, and for others it might. Then you can help them navigate how to feel affirmed in their identity, while knowing it may not be safe to come out in certain spaces.
And I really like this drawing on the right side, so I'll just read it for you as well. It says most trans people in the world can't afford the cost of transition, aren't allowed to transition, don't have the possibility to transition, or aren't in a safe environment to transition. And they still deserve respect and dignity.
Adam Davies 57:30
We have put together some statewide resources, and one that's local to the Chicago area. In addition, there's a Resource handout with additional information about some good websites and articles, where you can learn more or seek support in creating an inclusive sex education program.
Linda Sandman 57:53
Thank you for joining us for module seven. The next module in the "What's Right about Sex Ed" training series will focus on how to partner with parents, families and guardians to support sex education. We hope that you'll join us. As a reminder, it's not necessary to watch these modules in order and you may watch a module as many times as you like.
As we close out today, you can see my contact information on this slide, as well as the contact information for Cynthia Schierl-Spreen, from the Bureau of Quality Management, from the Department of Human Services. I want to give a special thanks to Adam Davies, Jess Jankowski for their contributions to this presentation. We're also especially grateful to Billy Clymo and Eddie Harriel for their courage and advocacy in speaking up and speaking out. We have a lot to learn from them. Thanks all and have a great day.