CDC's joint conference puts the spotlight on discussing sex and relationship with young people with disabilities

On the 29th of March, CDC joined forces with the Sex Education Forum to bring together professionals and parents, for a national conference that put the spotlight on the often overlooked, yet essential, need to tailor relationships and sex education (RSE) to young people with disabilities. 

The conference kicked off with a tour of the latest legislative changes to RSE, providing a summary of the changes, which apply to all schools in England from September 2020. Sex Education Forum Director, Lucy Emmerson used her speech to emphasise that “the new curriculum must be inclusive for all students”.

We were thrilled to have Ade Alao from the Department for Education join Lucy on our panel, and to hear him promote the mandatory inclusion of LGBT relationships in the new curriculum.

Richard Lawrence, a spokesperson from Mencap, took to the stage to remind the jam packed room why good quality RSE is so important for people with learning disabilities. Using ‘easy read’ to make his message accessible, he explained why it is key to develop the skills to form healthy friendships and relationships, and become part of a community. His advice on how to get RSE right? Asking young people what they want.

Completing the morning line-up, Junior Jimod, spoke representing young people.  His sex positive talk reminded us all that sex is normal and human, which "people living with challenges should not miss out on."

The speakers were followed by an afternoon of interactive workshops, which equipped attendees with practical knowledge and tools to meet the new curriculum requirements and effectively support young people with disabilities growing up..

No topic was taboo for the workshop leads, such as Claire Lightley from the Family Planning Association. She described how resistance to teaching young people with disabilities about masturbation, though often based in a desire to protect, or due to  awkwardness, exposes young people to harm. She then provided practical tips for facing this discussion head on.

Dr Eleanor Draeger, Senior RSE Trainer at the Sex Education Forum ran a workshop exploring real life case studies, taken from her extraordinary 16 years of experience working in a NHS sexual health clinic. Her session covered topics from condom use and consent, to expectations about relationships and sex, always emphasising the importance of using technically accurate language. “Good RSE for pupils with SEND works for all children - the clearer you can be the better”.

For hear about new resources on RSE and SEND and for updates in the lead-up to statutory provision in schools, join SEF's countdown here