You would think with all the talk about diversity and acceptance in our culture today, we’d be past petty things like discriminating against those with special needs.
Big companies like Gerber get it. Their 2018 Spokesbaby was the first ever baby chosen with Down syndrome.
There’s no denying little Lucas Warren is anything but adorable. This choice by the baby food company made a very important statement.
This choice showed us that the company doesn’t discriminate. It showed us opportunities like these are possible for everyone, regardless of disability.
But it would seem some people are a little behind on the times, as we learned when a teenage boy with Down syndrome was reportedly kicked off his high school cheerleading squad.
Glenn Wilson of Columbus, Ohio, is a 17-year-old sophomore who loves to cheer. According to Inside Edition, the teen was chosen to be part of West High School’s squad after he tried out last spring.
Sadly, something changed between spring tryouts and the start of the new school year. Glenn was reportedly told he “did not fit the image” the team had in mind.
“We were told he did very well,” Ray Valentine, Glenn’s uncle, told Inside Edition. The family is baffled at the switch in direction.
When Glenn’s cheer packet never arrived in the mail, which was supposed to have the teen’s uniform and practice schedule, questions were raised.
Valentine attempted to get a hold of the coach. When he finally did, she reportedly explained that Glenn not only did not fit their image, but that the coach also didn’t have the training needed to teach a special needs student.
If we’re to give this coach the benefit of the doubt, it might be understandable for her to claim she’s under-qualified.
But then that would make this problem bigger than one person, and perhaps it is. Because when Valentine went over the cheer coach’s head, the school reportedly told him they would stand behind her decision.
“I would have hoped he would have been accepted as part of the team from the start,” Valentine told Inside Edition.
This is truly heartbreaking. Even now that the problem has been rectified, and Glenn is rightfully a part of the team, it doesn’t change that what initially happened was wrong.
While some might suggest a separate team for special needs students ought to be formed, studies show that inclusion may be more beneficial.
A 2017 report on Inclusive Education written by a group of professors from the Harvard Graduate School of Education suggests that teaching disabled students alongside non-disabled students produces more positives than negatives.
One case study in the report noted, “An in-depth study of inclusive schools in Boston, Massachusetts demonstrates that schools can be both inclusive and high-performing.”
“When schools make inclusion part of their central mission, teachers work together to raise student achievement by continually improving their instruction and supporting the individual learning needs of each student,” the report read.
So it would appear that including students like Glenn could possibly help rather than hinder. Despite his re-inclusion on the squad, Glenn’s uncle is calling for change.
Valentine shared his experience at a school board meeting with My FOX 28 Columbus. “They were speechless, mouths were dropping, they couldn’t believe what I was saying,” he said.
Hopefully this is the last time something like this ever happens. For now, the cheer coach still reportedly holds her role, but the family told FOX 28 they are pushing to have her fired.
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