People with intellectual disabilities and/or developmental disabilities*, like all people, have inherent sexual rights. These rights and needs must be affirmed, defended, and respected.
For decades, people with intellectual disabilities and/or developmental disabilities have been thought to be asexual, having no need for loving and fulfilling relationships with others. Individual rights to sexuality, which is essential to human health and well-being, have been denied. This loss has negatively affected people with intellectual disabilities in gender identity, friendships, self-esteem, body image and awareness, emotional growth, and social behavior. People with intellectual or developmental disabilities frequently lack access to appropriate sex education in schools and other settings. At the same time, some individuals may engage in sexual activity as a result of poor options, manipulation, loneliness or physical force rather than as an expression of their sexuality.
Every person has the right to exercise choices regarding sexual expression and social relationships. The presence of an intellectual or developmental disability, regardless of severity, does not, in itself, justify loss of rights related to sexuality.
All people have the right within interpersonal relationships to:
With respect to sexuality, individuals have a responsibility to consider the values, rights, and feelings of others.
With respect to the potential for having and raising children, individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities have the right to:
Board of Directors, AAIDD
August 18, 2008
Board of Directors, The Arc of the United States
August 4, 2008
Congress of Delegates, The Arc of the United States
November 8, 2008
“People with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities” refers to those defined by AAIDD classification and DSM IV. In everyday language they are frequently referred to as people with cognitive, intellectual and/or developmental disabilities although the professional and legal definitions of those terms both include others and exclude some defined by DSM IV.