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Attitudes towards Sexuality, Sterilization and Parenting Rights of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities



Background and Methods  We review articles pertaining to attitudes towards sexuality, sterilization, procreation and parenting by people with intellectual disabilities. Most empirical studies were conducted after the appearance of the principles of normalization and role valorization in the 1970s.

Results  Across studies, special education teachers and university students appear to hold more positive attitudes towards sexuality and sexuality education programs than parents and service workers. People with intellectual disabilities have conservative attitudes towards sexual intercourse and homosexuality, but may be accepting intimate contact by familiar persons. Despite the ban on involuntary sterilization, it appears that many parents and teachers of persons with intellectual disabilities still support it as a form of contraception, especially for persons with severe intellectual disabilities. Likewise, attitudes towards parenting by persons with intellectual disabilities remain negative, and these attitudes may adversely affect the provision of competency-enhancing supports and services for parents with intellectual disabilities and their children.

Conclusions  It is recommended that new studies should be undertaken, comparing attitudes across different groups involved with persons with intellectual disabilities and examining the impact of prejudicial attitudes on sexual expression and parenting by persons with intellectual disabilities.