Journal of Moral Education 31 (2):181-187 (2002)

What follows is a response to an article by Spiecker and Steutel in which they pose the question of whether sex between people with "mental retardation" (sic) is morally permissible and in which they argue that since many such people cannot give "valid consent", the additional consent of caretakers may be required. However, we argue that the term "mental retard" is offensive and that either the UK terminology ("the learning disabled") or the internationally accepted term ("intellectually disabled") are more acceptable. Moreover, we point out that Spiecker and Steutel are mistaken. Many "learning disabled" people can and do give "valid consent". In any case, their question is itself dubious. Why should two learning disabled people who want to have sex together need anyone else's consent? In addition, we briefly address the rights of the learning disabled to the same sexual freedom as others, on the one hand, and to freedom from sexual exploitation on the other hand. Finally, we consider the implications of these issues for moral education. We suggest that carers need to develop empathy and, where necessary, advocacy skills. We point to the existence of training programmes on sexuality and protection issues
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DOI 10.1080/03057240220143287
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