What it’s like to use the My Rights My Life curriculum

Written by Sophie Benitez

Too often youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities are excluded from sex and relationship education. A lack of knowledge and skills around safer sexuality and healthy relationships increases the risk for abuse for all people.

That’s the inspiration for My Rights My Life, a 30-class safer sexuality and healthy relationship curriculum for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

(You can access the curriculum by clicking here)

I found the curriculum to be fun and interesting. I got to learn about healthy relationships, boundaries, internet safety, dating, safety in the community, and the relationship map, and a lot more. One of the standouts was the healthy relationship toolbox, which explains tools for saying no and how to show your boundaries to people—like what things you’re comfortable with and what things you’re not ok with.

My Rights My Life: A Curriculum for Safer Relationships contains 30 weekly, one-hour classes on healthy relationships, consent, dating, boundaries, Internet safety, safer sexuality, and other topics. It was developed for transition students (ages 18-22) with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Educators, Parents, Support Staff, and anyone wishing to access the curriculum can download the curriculum at no cost from https://myrightsmylife.safeaustin.org.

SAFE Disability Services Staff are available to provide training on how to facilitate the curriculum and for technical support. For more information, email disabilityservices@safe.org.

In the SAFE class, there were activities and games to help the students learn. I practice the healthy relationships toolbox statements at home and even at work and with my classmate in college.

The classes are important because there is a lot of detailed information that they teach that students in high school don’t learn about. Like in high school, you learn about what sex is, but not as broadly and detailed. And also what you learn in school likely isn’t as true as what we learn about in the SAFE classes.

In my high school, students didn’t have a class about consent, boundaries, and healthy relationships. There was no healthy relationship toolbox, information about safety on the internet, safety in the community, pregnancy and STI prevention, dating, or different types of relationships.

In the SAFE class there were activities and games to help the students learn. One of the myths that came up was that you are safer if you don’t date. That is really false, even though people think that that’s true.

If you don’t date someone, you still need to be aware of your safety in the community. That’s the reality, and there are always bad people out there whether you’re in a relationship and dating or not. The healthy relationship tools help people be safer in different circumstances and situations.

As a Disability Services staff at SAFE, my vision is to hopefully be able to take the SAFE classes to all of the school districts in Texas for students in school from elementary all the way until high school and transition classes. I want everyone to learn the SAFE curriculum topics with modifications for their age group as needed and the relevancy of what things they are going through at the point in their lives.

Sophie Benitez is a Disability Services Trainer and Educator who took part in SAFE’s My Rights My Life classes after graduating from high school. Prior to joining the Disability Services team, Sophie was a paid consultant providing feedback on curriculum accessibility. In this blog, Sophie writes about their experience and vision for other students.