To the editor: Haters undermine people with disabilities

Signs at Franklin Park targeting family of child with rare conditions have no place in our community.


Sun, 01 Dec 2019 05:00:00 GMT

As someone who works at an organization that both serves and represents folks with disabilities in our Toledo region, I was outraged and deeply saddened to learn of the recent signs found near Franklin Park Mall on a recent weekend targeting a family who had a baby with two rare conditions: AgCC and Mosaic trisomy 9.

Faced with overwhelming medical costs, the family reached out to our community for support. They found support, but with it came another message: multiple, publicly placed signs that read, “Stop asking for money. Let the baby die. It’s called Darwinism. Happy Holidays.”

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These signs are a form of hate speech that has no place in a diverse, welcoming community like ours. Notions like these hearken back to the eugenics movement of the early 1900’s, which contributed to the atrocities of World War II. This sentiment is devoid of compassion and devalues the life and potential of a young boy based solely on assumptions about his disability.

As a chair-user for nearly 40 years, I can attest that there are thousands of people in our big, diverse disability culture who are alive and thriving today, living happy lives and adding color and joy to the lives of others because their parents did not buy the premise of low expectation and the messages of unworthiness fed them near time of birth. Sadly, there are thousands upon thousands more who are not here today because their parents did.

All children, including those living with disabilities, have potential. All are worthy of our respect, acceptance, and community support. None deserve our disdain, or hatred in any form. Neither do their families.

Toledo, we are better than this. The father, in an interview, said he would counter the hateful messaging with love. As we step into this holiday season, I can think of no better antidote to the ills of today than to follow his lead as a kind, welcoming, and supportive community.

The Ability Center stands with the family and all who oppose hate speech by firmly decrying this type of thinking.

DAN WILKINS

Director of Special Projects, the Ability Center,

Sylvania

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