Supporting young people to explore sexuality & relationships

A free guide is now available for professionals to support young people with uncertain life-expectancy who want to experience intimacy, sex and relationships.

Talking about Sex, Sexuality and Relationships: Guidance and Standards has been published by The Open University in partnership with Together for Short Lives.

It sets out principles, guidance and standards for health, social care and education practitioners who support young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions.

The guide aims to help break down taboos and enable professionals to gain skills and confidence in exploring sexuality for these young people safely and legally.

Real life case studies are featured to show how the law applies in practice, along with the views of young people on the specific challenges they face in developing their sexual identities.

In the report’s foreword Hameed Jimoh (Junior) and Lucy Watts say: “Yes, talking about sex, intimacy and providing practical support for young people like us can be challenging, but such discussions shouldn’t be ignored and swept under the carpet. Staff just need training and support.”

Other comments from young people include:

“I get the feeling that some people don’t feel I need to know about genetic information partly due to their perception that I am not sexually active so no need and also because I have a short life span and won’t need info as I won’t have children – go figure…”

 “…we are all sexual beings with needs like everyone else, we might need some practical help to reach our goals but it does not make us any less human.”

Lizzie Chambers, Development Director for Together for Short Lives, said: “The growing number of young people now living into adulthood with life-limiting conditions means that professionals can no longer ignore their right to sexual expression.  After all it's just a normal part of growing up and being an adult. 

“I hope this new guide will give professionals the confidence to be able to talk to young people about their sexuality and that this will in turn empower young people to have relationships and have a good sex life if that is what they want.”

A free downloadable PDF of Talking about Sex, Sexuality and Relationships: Guidance and Standards is available from The Open University website – click here.

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