Vulnerable subjects and autonomous actors : The right to sexuality education for disabled under-18s

Daly, Aoife and Heah, Rachel and Liddiard, Kirsty (2019) Vulnerable subjects and autonomous actors : The right to sexuality education for disabled under-18s. Global Studies of Childhood, 9 (3). pp. 235-248.

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International human rights standards are clear that children and young people have a right to sexuality education. Nevertheless, the delivery of such education is often considered questionable, particularly for groups of children perceived as more ‘vulnerable’. In this article, the example of the right to access sexuality education for disabled children is used to explore the autonomy/vulnerability dynamic. Historically, sexuality education has been denied to disabled children, ostensibly to protect them from information and activities perceived as inappropriate due to their (perceived) greater vulnerabilities. It is argued, however, that discourses of sexual vulnerability can actually be dangerous in themselves. Sexuality education, rather than being a threat to disabled under-18s, serves as a way to increase their autonomy by equipping them with tools of knowledge around sex and relationships. This case study demonstrates how the autonomy of under-18s is not something inherent in them but something which can be enhanced through recognition of rights such as education and information, as well as recognition of adult responsibilities to facilitate this.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Global Studies of Childhood
Additional Information:
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Global Studies of Childhood, 9 (3), 2019, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2019 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Global Studies of Childhood page: on SAGE Journals Online:
?? children’s autonomyvulnerabilityun convention on the rights of the childsexuality educationdisabled children ??
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Deposited On:
12 Nov 2019 11:25
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 20:03