Attitudes of institutional staff toward the sexuality of the mentally retarded



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



A multidimensional questionnaire designed to assess attitudes toward the sexuality of the mentally retarded was administered to staff members at a large residential facility for the retarded. Questions dealt with heterosexual behavior, homosexual behavior, and masturbation, as well as respondents' demographic characteristics. Sexual behaviors were arranged in order of increasing intimacy, and respondents indicated the acceptability of these behaviors in public and in private, for three types of people: the retarded in institutions, the retarded in the community, and normals. Significant prejudices against sexual expression by the retarded were evidenced. Of the three groups, the institutionalized retarded were afforded the least sexual freedom, followed by the retarded in the community, followed by normals. Increased education and male sex were both positively correlated with sexual liberality. Belief in some religion was negatively correlated with sexual liberality. Suggestions for further research and implications for sex education programs and institutional policies were discussed.



People with mental disabilities, Sexual behavior, Sex instruction for people with mental disabilities