This research evaluates the lack of sex education the Deaf receive in the United States. Five sources were reviewed in regards to parent training, rationale and recommendation for Deaf schools, factors involved in the ineffective teaching of sexuality, and a recent NYC mandating of sex education. Deaf sex based knowledge is disproportionate in comparison to their hearing peers. Hearing parents and teachers were ineffective in teaching Deaf children or student’s sex education. Most parents want to participate in their children’s sex education but cannot either because of embarrassment or lack of deaf specific sexuality programs assisting parents. Other possible contributing factors preventing sex education could include seeing deaf people as sexual deviants, promiscuous, disabled people who do not need to reproduce and/or receive sexual counseling or treatment. As of September 2011, New York City will be mandating sex education to middle and high school students in an effort to reduce pregnancy, disease, and dropouts. Whether this new implementation will help the deaf is unknown, however, based on older research it looks bleak.
Keywords: Deaf, American Sign Language (ASL), Sexuality, Sex Education
The Deaf Community and the Lack of Sexual Education:
How Are They Receiving Sex Education in the United States?
“Many educators overlook a major hurdle in the implementation of sex education programs: one curriculum does not suit all. Of prime concern here is the deaf population and how deaf children's access to timely, accurate sex information is most likely not transpiring (Swartz, 1992).” Deaf members rely on American Sign Language (ASL), visual learning, have a unique culture which causes a problem for community services, educational programs, and general information directed to this population. Sex education in the Deaf community are ineffective and have little research, understanding, or interest to remedy their situation. The Deaf are lacking knowledge and prevention in sex education; how are they receiving sex education in the United States?
In Jennifer Jobs (2004) study, her current research indicated that Deaf people do not have adequate information on sexuality issues, effective resources, and proper support. Furthermore, parents, education, peers, and their language are all barriers to the process of obtaining sex education. She addresses the "myth conceptions" framework to determine possible contributing factors relating to deaf people's lack of sexual knowledge. These include:
Deaf Individuals are eternal children and asexual.
Deaf individuals need to live in environments that restrict and inhibit their sexuality, to protect themselves and others.
Deaf individuals should not be provided with sex education, as it will only encourage inappropriate behavior.
Deaf individuals should be sterilized because they will give birth to children who are also disabled.
Deaf individuals are sexually different from other people and are more likely to develop diverse, unusual, or deviant sexual behavior.
Deaf individuals are oversexed, promiscuous, sexually indiscriminate, and dangerous, and you have to watch your children around them.
Deaf individuals cannot benefit from sexual counseling or treatment
Swartz (1992) researched the knowledge of sex information among hearing and deaf college freshmen to determine whether or not there are disproportions in sex knowledge between both groups. He tested both groups to measure and assess sex knowledge in the following: masturbation, homosexuality, reproduction, birth control, anatomy and physiology, sexual intercourse, and AIDS. His research demonstrated that deaf college freshmen knew less than hearing college freshmen in almost every aspect of sex knowledge examined.
Gabriel and Getch (2001) study examined whether schools for the deaf were providing services to assist parents in communicating with their children about sexuality (including sexual signs) and whether…