Guest blogs
If this is your first visit, check out the community guide. You will have to Join us or Sign in before you can post.

We’re forgetting disabled people when discussing sex

miss_hollymaymiss_hollymay Member Posts: 8 Courageous
edited February 2020 in Guest blogs

I’m Holly Greader, I’m 22 years old and I write a blog called The World in My Words. I wanted to share some of my thoughts and experiences as a young disabled woman who had limited resources to answer the questions I had about sex and relationships.

We are well aware that sex education in schools is extremely poor. The information provided is outdated and the real questions are not being addressed.

Sex Education forgets disabled people

One thing I notice is that there is zero representation for disabled people in sex education. There’s this idea that disabled people can’t or couldn’t care less about sex and relationships. Boy, are they wrong! Everyone deserves love, intimacy and sex if they choose. Relationships and sex should be fun, and we all have the right to enjoy them.

 White duvet and pillows in a heap on a bed

There are things that my body does ‘differently’ which could change my experiences, yet this does not mean I’m not entitled to that experience. As a disabled person and a young woman, I had questions that no one else asked. Therefore, I kept quiet.

I missed out on the sex education lesson at school, yes there was only one! I attended part-time due to my disability and happened to not be there and no one deemed it necessary or seemed to care. However, what I can tell you from friends is that the discussions were brief, very basic and only included an abled man and an abled woman.

My initial interactions about relationships

I had my first boyfriend at 15-years-old and I had a lot of questions about being disabled in a relationship. When speaking to friends I didn’t always have the same curiosities or fears they did. Surprisingly I didn’t have many questions surrounding sex, other than the usual ones every other girl my age was having, until others began placing fears and doubts inside my mind.

From the age of 16 I began to receive a lot of questions from the guys in my class. It started with, can you have sex? I answered yes to this because I wanted to seem cool and not come across as a prude, which is how I was often referred to as a disabled person. Then the questions became more intrusive. They would ask about the splints I wore and if would they get in the way. They would ask questions surrounding my abilities to make it interesting, they didn’t want to have sex with me if I was going to be a bore. My joints frequently dislocated so they began asking questions like:

If you dislocated can I continue, or would you make me stop?

Do you have to avoid certain things because of dislocations?

Then came the pity response, I feel so sorry for you, that you will never be able to have really good sex. Although they had made it pretty clear that I was not worth their time, they continued to ask.

The impact of lacking knowledge

I began to believe that no guy would ever want an intimate relationship with me. Anyone that showed any interest was pushed away because I didn’t feel deserving enough. I began covering up my splints more and wishing away my need for mobility aids more than ever because I’d been told that it was weird and disgusting to use mobility aids during sex. It was at this point that I finally realised that these guys had no idea what they were talking about. The last time I checked my walking stick was not surgically attached to my hand or my wheelchair to my backside. If it wasn’t clear enough already, consent and courteous interactions were not covered well enough.

Holly sat in her wheelchair with colourful flowers behind her

I found the lack of resources and conversations really damaging and I am so grateful that it didn’t take me too long to gain perspective. Sex works differently for everyone, disabled or not. Everyone has their own preferences and I believe it’s important that everyone has discussions about sex with anyone they are being sexually active with. I believe that my disability created a situation in which I needed to have these discussions and in doing so has enhanced my sexual experiences.

I made the decision to not hide the fact that my experiences were slightly different when discussing the topic with friends. In doing so I quickly became the go-to for my friends who had a disability. They never had anyone to talk to and always felt they had to keep these questions to themselves. In this day and age we are more open to taboo discussions, but sex shouldn’t be a taboo topic. In every discussion we have, everyone should be involved, including minority groups.

What questions do you wish you had asked? How have you found relationships? Is there a lack of disability representation? Let us know in the comments below!


  • wilkowilko Member Posts: 2,355 Disability Gamechanger
    sex is becoming a more open topic of conversation within some age groups but still people won’t be open in any way. The young girls need to be educated on tactics and verbal language used by boys to try and start a sexual relationship. If you love me you’ll let me put it in, it’s ok I won’t come inside you, get on the pill and so on. As for the physically disabled having a  sexual relationship can leave people wondering how or what they do to get satisfaction. Many of us find we have a great sex life despite our inabilities to preform the karma suture positions or even wishing to try. But just like the able bodied person we learn to adapt and accept our limitations in relation to sexual activities weather the problems are physical or the medications make us or reduce our sexuality. We still enjoy the closeness of our parters, the cuddles, kisses and what ever sexual pleasures we can give to each other.
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,653 Disability Gamechanger
    Love this article @miss_hollymay! Thank you for discussing such an important topic!

  • AilsAils Member Posts: 2,268 Disability Gamechanger
    Yes, really informative @miss_hollymay and I enjoyed reading it.  Thanks for helping to break down the barriers to talking about this.  :smile:
    Winner of the Scope New Volunteer Award 2019.   :)
  • miss_hollymaymiss_hollymay Member Posts: 8 Courageous
    @Ails I'm so pleased you enjoyed this post. I haven't written one like this before but as you said it's about breaking down barriers! 
  • April2018momApril2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
    Lovely post on a hot button topic @miss_hollymay
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 7,998

    Scope community team

    Thanks so much for being so open @miss_hollymay. It's really important that these conversations take place.
    Senior Community Partner
  • EmmaJaneEmmaJane Member Posts: 32 Courageous
    I very much enjoyed this article, but sad to know things haven't changed since I was that age.
  • macbanana57macbanana57 Member Posts: 4 Listener
    Yes, nice to hear something about sex. I have actually been celibate for for about 22 years But before that I enjoyed a very good sex life. Unfortunately, I met somebody to whom I had two children, too. I really really loved the the children but did not get on with my partner. And it was one of those. Classic for the sake of the children relationships I must say I do miss sex and intimacy just cuddles would do from somebody. D but somehow how I've got on on without out for so long. That It's not such a big deal anymore. Or and I wonder if I will ever have sex again. NH please excuse my grammar as I I talk into the phone. rather than prints with my finger and it always comes out a bit weird...
  • 77cp77cp Member Posts: 21 Connected
    77bpGood to read such an open post. I went to a special girls boarding school where the sex education was very sketchy.We learnt more from each other than formal teaching.I left school and entered the world of work. I was looking
    for friendship but not having developed proper barriers I ended up having a baby girl. At that time sex outside marriage was frowned on so I had tto retreat from society until after my baby was born. Due to other circumstances my daughter was adopted at 6months.Happily she found me again when she was in her thirties and she got married and has two children. So I am a granny. A good ending.
  • WilfWilf Member Posts: 11 Connected
    There are some good resources for RSE for children and young people with learning disabilities.  We have online videos ( and Image in Action have some good books and other resources.  Some schools and other organisations seem to be averse to providing comprehensive RSE but this does seem to be less so as time goes by.   
  • miss_hollymaymiss_hollymay Member Posts: 8 Courageous
    Lovely post on a hot button topic @miss_hollymay
    Thank you!
  • miss_hollymaymiss_hollymay Member Posts: 8 Courageous
    Thank you everyone for such lovely feedback! It's such a shame we've all experience something like this but I really hope sex education becomes more inclusive for everyone!
Sign in or join us to comment.