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Anaphylaxis: The New Form of Discrimination

As a father of a beautiful child who suffers from anaphylaxis, I couldn’t be more disappointed in the parents of Edgewater Elementary School for their repeated calls for a young girl with a peanut allergy to be removed from their school. Their reaction is alarmism at its best and warrants a strong and decisive response by the school board.  Unfortunately, the best they could do is blame Federal law for not being able to remove the child.

Some public school parents in Edgewater, Florida, want a first-grade girl with life-threatening peanut allergies removed from the classroom and home-schooled, rather than deal with special rules to protect her health, a school official said.

“That was one of the suggestions that kept coming forward from parents, to have her home-schooled. But we’re required by federal law to provide accommodations. That’s just not even an option for us,” said Nancy Wait, spokeswoman for the Volusia County School District.

Wait said the 6-year-old’s peanut allergy is so severe it is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

To protect the girl, students in her class at Edgewater Elementary School are required to wash their hands before entering the classroom in the morning and after lunch, and rinse out their mouths, Wait said, and a peanut-sniffing dog checked out the school during last week’s spring break.

Wait said school leaders will meet this week with parents to address concerns and try to halt inaccurate rumors that children’s mouths were being wiped with disinfectant.

Chris Burr, a father of two older students at the school whose wife has protested at the campus, said a lot of small accommodations have added up to frustration for many parents.

“If I had a daughter who had a problem, I would not ask everyone else to change their lives to fit my life,” said Burr.

Am I missing something here?  Are we not in the year 2011?  So what if children are slightly inconvenienced my having to wash their hands and rinse their mouths?  How can the inconvenience of added personal hygiene measures compare to the possibility of an anaphylactic attack?

How dare the school for not taking a much more calm and rational approach.  Talk about pandering to parents!  Why couldn’t they just say that nut allergies are common, and with sensible but thorough measures, we can deliver great educational outcomes for all students with allergies?

My daughter has egg and sesame allergies.  Otherwise, she is a normal, sweet-natured and delightful person.  I would be horrified if there was a campaign to have her removed and homeschooled.

There is enough descrimination already in this world, let’s not add to it!

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4 Responses to “Anaphylaxis: The New Form of Discrimination”

  1. Grace Says:

    As someone who grew up with a severe nut allergy (yes, anaphylaxis), I disagree. You can’t hide from the world forever. Even at the age of six, you give your kid an epi-pen and teach them how to use it. Make sure the teachers know how to use it too. A child has to learn to grow up in the real world, and instead of insisting that the world change to accommodate them (and it won’t do that forever), the best solution is to turn it into a teaching opportunity.

    • Michael G. Says:

      I hear what you are saying, but I have no proble with people changing the way they do things to accomodate others. The greatest gifts we can give our students is compassion, respect, selflessness and cooperation.

  2. eric Says:

    Unfortunately, peanut allergy is one situation where ensuring the rights of one person infringes on the rights of everyone else, such as the right to eat the food of one’s choice (e.g. a peanut butter sandwich). Also, the kids in her class have an extra burden of responsibility that kids in other classrooms do not have. That is also unfair. Until medical science finds an effective way to treat peanut allergy other than requiring “peanut free” environments, peanut allergic kids should be in their own protected spaces and not require an entire classroom (or even an entire school) to have absolute bans on peanut products. Such policies can have effects far outside the school, since the parents of hundreds of children will have the burden of making sure their children aren’t taking any peanut products to school.

    Accommodation is more difficult for some disabilities than others. Accommodating a wheelchair-bound child doesn’t interfere with the rights of other children, but (fully) accommodating a peanut allergic child does. That’s just the way it is. If you find my opinion objectionable, do some research on some of the extreme measures some schools have adopted to ensure a peanut free environment, and you might begin to feel a bit annoyed.

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