It’s hard to understand people who put barriers up for their fellow humans who, in their eyes, don’t fit into the realms of what they think is normal. People with Down syndrome often face ungrounded discrimination, plainly because of their appearance and genetics – things they cannot control.
Those people who face more challenges than most of us yet still live a life of no restrictions are an inspiration and should be admired and celebrated.
Ohio teenager Glenn Wilson has Down syndrome and has a dream: to join the school’s cheer leading team.
But his dream would come crashing down around him when the coach told him he couldn’t because he “doesn’t fit the image”.
Glenn loves to sing and dance so when he tried out for West High School cheer leading squad in 2018 he was accepted.
He then spent the whole summer so excited to return to school to start his dream role. But the package team organizers said they were going to send out never arrived.
His family called the team’s coach to find out why he hadn’t received the packet as promised. Glenn’s uncle, Ray Valentine, decided to call and speak directly to the cheer coach.
“She told me he did not fit the image she wanted her team to portray” , Glenn’s uncle Ray Valentine said was the response he got, according to Inside Edition.
Glenn is male, biracial and openly gay and when Ray asked the coach if any of these were reasons why she had dropped him she replied.
“I really don’t have to answer those questions but Mr Valentine I don’t have the qualifications or the experience dealing with special needs children so I took him off the team,” Ray said was her response, according to Inside Edition.
Instead, Glenn was offered a manager’s position which he turned down.
Despite the shock, Glenn’s family refused to give up.
“We’re going to get justice not only for him but for all the special needs children in this world, they need advocates out there,” Ray added.
A school spokesperson admitted a mistake had been made and said Glenn was a full member of the cheer leading squad.
For Glenn, it meant that he got to do what he loved to do: to dance and spread joy. The 17-year-old’s grandmother hopes the experience is a learning lesson.
“Glenn is just a person like everyone else is. Because he has a disability, doesn’t make him any different than what me or you are,” said Wilson.
Find out more about Glenn’s story in the clip below
All people deserve to be treated the same way. Thank goodness the family fought this and got the decision overturned. Glenn should get the chance to join the team officially and be treated like he deserves – with understanding and respect – just like any other human being.
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