Nor does it mean she can’t date, or have boyfriends – regardless of what people around her think.“They make assumptions that I can’t have sex or I’m not capable of being in a relationship,” she says.Even though there are at least 9.4 million disabled people in England, accounting for 18 per cent of the population.
“But if you had an opportunity to date a disabled person and because of your own prejudices or ignorance, you have rejected that person, it’s something we need to look at,” she says.
“The statistics aren’t not here to make able-bodied people feel guilty. It’s just about breaking barriers.” This links to why she has mainly only ever had relationships with people who started off as her friends – because “their barriers have already been broken down”. “When I started first going out aged 18 with the girls, I didn’t really get much attention.
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When Samantha Renke, 29, is out in a club, she gets guys coming up to her and making comments like: “While you’re down there love…” It’s not just because she’s four foot, but mainly because she’s in a wheelchair.
Thriving includes mental and physical health, preventing secondary conditions, and maintaining overall well-being.
Unfortunately, most people do not think about thriving as including dating, healthy relationships, sex, and forming healthy sexual identities.“We don’t really need to talk about that” was the response of some support personnel, and parents said things like, “My son/daughter doesn’t need to be exposed to that!” Generations X and Y have grown up with the cliché, “Knowledge is power! Having sessions about sex and relationships at a conference for youth leaders with disabilities caused a stir among everyone the youth. As I met people outside the family and engaged in conversations with other youth and young adults with disabilities, I quickly learned that sex was a taboo subject.Boys wouldn’t want to be seen approaching someone in a wheelchair.