Courtney Gale is a graduate of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. She holds a Bachelors degree in journalism.
Social Issues – I’m sure we would all like to believe that the plethora of misconceptions regarding the AIDS/HIV virus died in the 80s after the Ryan White case, but apparently they are alive and well and living in Hershey, Pennsylvania where a boy was denied access to an education at a private institution there.
Abraham Smith*, 13, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a “motivated and intelligent” athlete, applied to enter the 8th grade at Milton Hershey School. He was turned down simply because he has the disease.
According to the National Association of State Boards of Education, “the presence of a person living with HIV infection or diagnosed with AIDS poses no significant risk to others in school, day care, or school athletic settings.” And though it has been determined, and is now widely known, that HIV cannot be transmitted by day to day contact such as touching or hugging, school officials at Milton are concerned that the other 1,850 students enrolled at the school are in danger. It is, after all, residential, with 10 to 12 students sharing homes together.
On Wednesday, November 30 – fittingly, the eve of World AIDS Day – Smith and his mother turned to the non-profit AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania and filed a lawsuit against the school for being in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act which was revised in 2008 to include AIDS/HIV. The school is also being accused of violating “multiple anti-discrimination laws.”
A petition has been started at Change.org through a partnership between Advocates for Youth, “the organization [which] has worked tirelessly to promote effective adolescent reproductive and sexual health programs” and Lawrence Stallworth who was diagnosed with HIV at 17. To sign the petition, click here.
*This moniker is being used to protect the client’s privacy.