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Launch of ‘Talking about Sex’ to support young people who are life-threatened

Disabled young girl with carer

A booklet based on research that shows the importance of intimacy and relationships for people with life-threatening illnesses, is being launched this month (September 2020).

‘Talking about Sex’ opens with the statement: One of society’s greatest taboos seems to be that disabled people are not sexual beings. It builds on this premise to provide young people, carers and professionals with guidance to facilitate conversations around sexuality, sex, intimacy and relationships. It contains lots of useful hints and tips for how to approach talking about these topics.

It will be launched at a webinar on Wednesday 16 September from 11am-12pm, hosted by Together For Short Lives, who funded the booklet.

The OU lead for the project, Dr Sarah Earle, Director of the Open University's Health & Wellbeing Strategic Research Area, who worked collaboratively with young people and partners Hospice UK in the design and development of the booklet, will speak at the launch and focus on how the needs of young people who are life-limited or life-threatened often go unmet because they sometimes do not have the confidence to talk about sex.

She said:

“The topic is often taboo and young disabled people are often regarded as asexual so sex and intimacy isn’t even seen as something that should be addressed.

“We are currently undertaking work specifically in relation to COVID with this group. Although we are still interviewing, preliminary analysis shows that mental health has been a significant issue with considerable decline in mental health for some young people. COVID-19 has encouraged young people to (re)evaluate the significance of their relationships and so intimacy and relationships is likely to be more important moving forwards.”

Find out more about research in the Health & Wellbeing

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