Sexuality and people with learning disabilities : a conflict of ideologies
This study addresses the issues of sexuality and learning disability. It is concerned with the views of professionals working with adults with learning disabilities and their parental carers. The views of professionals and parents regarding relationships, marriage and parenthood are explored. These form the basis of the emerging grounded theory, which incorporates the discrepancies between their ideologies of care. Although the subject of sexuality highlights these inherent differences, it is essentially the issue of sterilisation which magnifies them. It exacerbates the tension and potential conflict between professionals and parents. Furthermore, the focus on sterilisation has ramifications concerning the conflict between public and private concerns. There is controversy regarding the validity of consent to sterilisation by people with learning disabilities. This is because there is a final legal arbiter, which in Scotland is provided by the tutor-dative system. Ideologies of care have changed principally through normalisation. Although this is now the accepted orthodox philosophy, there remain some professionals who adhere to the superseded ideology of institutionalisation. As a result, they are more similar to those of parents than they are to their professional colleagues. The wider implications of these disparate ideologies of care are examined with respect to social work-family relations. Although these differences are at present irreconcilable, suggestions of how to alleviate tension and potential conflict between these two groups are made. Finally, the implications of normalisation with regard to sexuality are also addressed.