Hide messageView More

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health and Safety Guide

ASERT has put together some resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current Coronavirus outbreak.

Read More

Guidelines Concerning Sexual Health, Personal Relationships and Sexuality

Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) Bulletin

Overview

The purpose of this bulletin is to distribute "Sexual Health, Personal Relationships, and Sexuality Guidelines" and encourage provider agencies to develop policies consistent with the guidelines.

Background

In 2016, the Office of Developmental Programs contracted with the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University to form a cross-system, statewide committee of individuals with disabilities, professionals, family members, provider organizations, educators, medical professionals, and direct care staff to review and update the Department’s Guidelines Concerning Sexuality, which were distributed in 1996. The committee has developed “Sexual Health, Personal Relationships and Sexuality Guidelines” to support the sexual health and relationships of individuals with disabilities.

Discussion

Sexuality at its core is a natural and integral part of who we are. It begins at birth and extends over our life span. It influences how we feel about ourselves and our relationships. The Guidelines are being issued to:

  • Promote an environment where individuals with disabilities can pursue personal relationships and their sexuality.
  • Promote an environment where individuals with disabilities can receive objective, non-judgmental, comprehensive information regarding sexual health and relationships.
  • Establish an expectation that provider agencies develop policies on sexual health, personal relationships, and sexuality consistent with the Guidelines.

Sexual Health, Personal Relationships, and Sexuality Guidelines

  1. Promote an environment where individuals with disabilities have the right to pursue personal relationships and their sexuality and experience a life that is no different than that of individuals without disabilities, without being neglected, exploited, or abused.
  2. Ensure that individuals with disabilities have the same opportunity to receive accurate sexual health and relationship information as individuals without disabilities.
  3. Establish an expectation that provider agencies develop or review their policies on sexual health, personal relationships, and sexuality. The policies should support the concept of Everyday Lives and be consistent with the below considerations.
  1. Individuals with disabilities are sexual human beings with their own cultural, religious/faith, ethnic, and family values.
  2. Individuals with disabilities have the right to enjoy their personal relationships and sexuality in a safe, consensual, and legal manner, while respecting the rights of others.
  3. Individuals with disabilities have the same basic rights as individuals without disabilities to self-identify their gender, sexual orientation, and sexual preferences.
  4. Individuals with disabilities have the right to accessible and appropriate education, information, and resources that address their individual personal relationships, sexual health, and sexuality needs.
  5. Individuals with disabilities have the right to privacy when accessing supports and have the right to have information about their personal relationships remain private unless they consent to a disclosure. Privacy covers all forms of communication. Information regarding an individual’s personal relationships, sexual health, and sexuality should be considered private and must be treated with respect and dignity.
  6. Individuals with disabilities have the right to enjoy relationships and to express their sexuality in a safe manner.
  7. Individuals with disabilities have the right to have their sexual health and personal relationships supported by knowledgeable provider agency staff and a knowledgeable Individual Support Plan team.
  1. Provide an environment where individuals with disabilities can live like individuals without disabilities and not be neglected, exploited, or abused.
  2. Allow individuals with disabilities to access supports in a manner that ensures their privacy. Privacy covers all forms of communication. Information regarding an individuals’ sexual health, personal relationships, and sexuality is private and must be treated with respect and dignity and handled in a professional manner.
  3. Have a positive policy on sexuality that is consistent with the values of Everyday Lives. A positive policy is one that acknowledges and supports a person’s right to have a healthy, consensual sexual life, such as hand holding, going on dates, etc., opposed to a negative policy that focuses on “no and can’t” in terms of personal relationships. The policy should be reviewed annually by a cross-disciplinary team that includes administrators, direct support professionals, individuals with disabilities, and family members.
  4. Provide accessible and appropriate education, information, and resources that address sexual health, personal relationships, and sexuality needs.
  5. Ensure that organizational and managerial resources are available to staff to support individuals with disabilities that have issues related to sexual health, personal relationships, or sexuality.
  6. Provide resources and training for all staff on understanding, supporting, and responding to sexual health, personal relationships, and sexual issues.

Rate this resource

Thank you for rating this resource!

Download entire resource (pdf)

This resource created by Pennsylvania Department of Human Services