Sexual Rights: Equity Versus Equality:
There is a Big Difference

View All Articles

A graphic showing the difference between equality and equity. The top shows equality by four people with all different needs with the same bike, but the bike only works for one person. The bottom shows equality and each of the four people having unique bikes that works for their individual needs.The word equality means everyone gets the same thing, but unfortunately, equality doesn’t always work for everyone. In the top image, everyone is given the same bicycle. We’ll call this the “equality bike.” When a person who uses a wheelchair receives what is equal, they can’t use it and they just sit next to the equality bicycle. Furthermore, the tall person is too big and the little person is too small and can barely touch the pedals. The equality bike only works for one of the people. 

On the other hand, the word equity takes into consideration that people need different things in order to have the same opportunity or experience. Look at the bottom image, with equity the individuals are transporting themselves on different kinds of cycles. The person who uses a wheelchair needs a handcycle and the tall person and little kid need a bike that matches their height. They receive what they need in order to transport themselves and now have equal opportunities.

“I have a right to get information and learn in a way that I can best understand through videos, large print, audio, pictures, easy-to-understand language, or a combination of all.”

Learning Objective

For Self Advocates: To advocate for the type of sexuality education that is most effective for you. To receive equitable sexuality education. 

For Professionals/Parents: To discuss what equitable sexuality education means and help self advocate get access to this education. 

3 suggestions that support learning objective

  • Understand the difference between equality and equity. Receiving the same, standard sexuality education curriculum that everyone receives, may work for some but not everyone and is just like the “equality bike.” People with I/DD need equitable sexuality education that meets their specific learning needs and is delivered in a cognitively accessible way in order for them to learn about sexuality and relationships just like everyone else. Bottom line, equitable sexuality education leads to equal knowledge.
  • Figure out what you need to access sexuality education. Think about how you learn best and find ways to access sexuality education. What works best for you? What do you need to learn information and skills? 
  1. Advocate for equitable education and opportunities. Speak up for what would be equitable for you. If someone says, here is a website for you to read, speak up if that won’t work for you. Whatever you need is OK. You don’t have to go along with what is offered to you. Speak up for equitable sexuality education!  

Inspiration/end result

People will have access to education and opportunities that meet their specific learning needs. Their lives will be fuller and they will be able to make informed decisions because they are taught in ways that work for them. 

Self reflection/call to action

For Self Advocates: It is OK to have specific learning needs and to speak up for those needs. If the education you are receiving is not equitable, speak up. You deserve access to sexuality education just like everyone else.

For Professionals/Parents: Have discussions with self advocates on how they learn best and help them advocate for themselves. Explain what equitable sexuality education means and that they have the right to equity!

Skip to content