This quantitative study examines the attitudes of multidisciplinary staff regarding sex education among students with developmental intellectual disabilities and compares the attitudes of teachers working in regular education and those working in special education, and attitudes of religious versus non-religious teachers. One hundred and twenty teachers from various schools in the State of Israel participated in the study. The vast majority were women (91.7%), and the rest were men (8.3%). The prevailing level of religiosity in the study was secular (47.5%), and religious (43.3%). Most teachers had no experience working with children with special needs (60%). The study participants completed a demographic survey. The questionnaire used to examine the research questions was The Sexual Attitude Scale (SAS) (Hudson, Murphy, & Nurius, 1983) – a 25-item summated category partition scale that was designed to measure the extent to which an individual adheres to a liberal or a conservative orientation concerning sexual expression. One question was removed from the original questionnaire (statement 18: heavy sexual petting should be discouraged) and 5 statements were added, focusing on attitudes toward sex education for students with developmental intellectual disabilities. The study findings show that the level of conservatism among special education teachers was lower than the level of conservatism among regular education teachers, i.e., special education teachers expressed more positive attitudes. The study find-ings show that the level of conservatism among religious teachers was higher than the level of conservatism among non-religious teachers, i.e., non-religious teachers expressed more positive attitudes. It was also found that there is a positive and significant relation between the seniority of teachers and their degree of conservatism: the more years of experience teachers had, the more negative were their attitudes regarding the sexual education of students with Developmental Cognitive Disabilities (DCD). In contrast, there was no significant connection between age and level of conservatism. The study also examined the relationship between the role of the teacher and his attitudes. The study reveals surprising findings that show that the highest degree of conservatism was found among teachers and counselors, then, among professional teachers, and finally, school therapists who demonstrated the lowest level of conservatism. This means that the most positive attitudes were among the paramedical caregivers and the more negative among the educators and counselors.
These findings suggest that training is needed for teachers in regular education, and among religious teachers, who are more conservative concerning sex education for people with special needs. It was also found that there is a connection between the teacher's role and his attitudes, and that the teacher's discipline should be addressed in the training. Veteran teachers have shown more negative attitudes, which is why training, for both teaching students and young teachers, and especially to veteran teachers, has an impact on their attitudes towards sex education among people with special needs. This training, beyond the knowledge provided, will facilitate changes of social attitudes to another, more positive view, towards people with special needs.
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