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Sexual Self-Advocacy

By Carli Friedman, CQL Director of Research

This exploratory study examines how people with intellectual and developmental disabilities define and experience sexuality in the context of their identities as self-advocates. Using nominal group technique this study found self-advocates described sexual self-advocacy as relating to knowing and respecting themselves, respect for others, choices, speaking up, having their rights respected, getting information, healthy relationships, and interdependence. They also explained facilitators that would increase their sexual self-advocacy such as expanding access to information and sexual health services, removing systemic barriers, educating others, increasing access to counseling, and developing opportunities for sexual expression. The significance of the study is the expansion of research on sexual self-advocacy by bringing the sexuality and self-advocacy literature together, reinforces the value of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as legitimate sources of information about their own experiences, and provides a sustainable and accessible research method for working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.