Individuals with Down syndrome often face unwarranted discrimination, purely because of their appearance and genetics – both things that they cannot control.
As a society, sometimes the automatic reaction to someone different or unfamiliar can be to shun them, and this is something we need to work on changing.
Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition within the United States, where an average 1 in every 700 babies born have this condition.
It is caused by extra chromosomes or chromosomal parts of chromosome 21, with these extra bits being present in a number of cells within the person’s body.
Contrary to popular belief, individuals with Down syndrome can be and, if they so desire, deserve to be a part of so-called conventional everyday life.
Common myths about those with Down syndrome include beliefs that they must be placed exclusively in special education programs or that they cannot be employed in most conventional jobs.
However, this is far from the truth!
Plenty of individuals with Down syndrome participate in standard academic classroom environments in a wide variety of typical schools across the country.
Though they may require specific extra courses, countless people with this condition graduate high school and take part in post-secondary education.
Some go on to receive college degrees.
Many carry on to work in small or medium office work environments and is all sorts of fields: hotels, food service, companies and corporations, sports, childcare, entertainment… the list goes on.
This is why outrage had erupted after Glenn Wilson, a 17-year-old student at Columbus, Ohio’s West High School was kicked off the cheer team because of his condition, and, supposedly, because he did not fit the image the coach desired for the team.
Originally, Glenn had been successfully chosen to join the cheer team.
He was absolutely thrilled and spent all summer practicing the cheers he knew.
He showed off his cool moves, awesome cheers, and amazing heel stretches and splits at home, and his family couldn’t be prouder!
Glenn had spent a lot of his childhood watching his older cousins as they cheered and joined competitions.
There was nothing Glenn wanted more!
All that was left was for Glenn to wait for his cheer starter kit to arrive in the mailbox, which would also have his uniform bills and the upcoming training schedule.
But the kit never arrived, and the end of summer came around.
Glenn’s legal guardian, his grandmother Carolyn, then received a call from the cheer team supervisor.
She was informed that Glenn was no longer on the cheer team.
Glenn’s uncle, Ray Valentine, decided to call up the school to speak directly to the cheer coach.
The coach explained that she chose to kick Glenn of the team because she did not have the knowledge necessary to teach special-needs individuals.
She added, also, that Glenn did not fit into the image and vision she had for the cheerleading squad.
Since the start of the school year, Glenn has been allowed by the coach to join some of the cheering during a few games.
Even so, he has not been able to attend the cheer training that everyone else on the team does.
Understandably, his grandmother is heavily upset by this, as it is a clear case of discrimination.
According to a spokesperson with Columbus City Schools, this issue is being investigated.
We hope Glenn gets the opportunity to join the team officially and be treated just like he deserves to be treated – with understanding, respect, and just like any other human being.