the milton hershey school was founded by the chocolate tycoon as a school that "nurtures & educates children in social & financial need to lead fulfilling & productive lives." sadly, that fulfillment won't be realized by a 13 year-old honor student from delaware county who's hiv-positive.
...is this how we celebrate world aids day?
in an exclusive interview with nbc philadelphia's denise nakano, the disheartened boy said, "i feel no other teenager should go through this, being denied just because they have hiv." his lawyer filed a discrimination suit in u.s. district court alleging the school "violated multiple anti-discrimination laws," by not admitting him due to his hiv+ health status.
the lawsuit was filed under a pseudonym. the boy & his mother requested their identities not be revealed. the school doesn't deny why they rejected him; furthermore, they petitioned to have the court review the case. the school released a statement wednesday; part of which stated, "in order to protect our children in this unique environment, we cannot accommodate the needs of students with chronic communicable diseases that pose a direct threat to the health & safety of others."
ronda goldfein from the aids law project is representing the boy & his mother in the federal discrimination lawsuit. goldfein says, "if you have a school that's open to the public, it's open to the public. if you have a student that has a particular need & requests assistance, then you accommodate. you don't simply say, we don't like you, we don't like your diagnosis, you can't come here."
the boy's mother said, "it makes me angry, like really, really angry, because they don't understand how great he is." the teenager has lived with hiv all of his life but doesn't feel hiv defines him. he excels in school, is active in sports & was learning to speak two foreign languages. he hoped hershey - a cost-free, private boarding school for children from low-income families - would advance his education.
"they didn't look at whether my client presented any threat, they just said 13 year-old boy with hiv, oh no, that's too dangerous," said goldfein. the lawsuit calls for the school to both admit the fun-loving student & give unspecified monetary damages. said the boy, "i think that it was wrong to put me through emotional distress."
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. email@example.com.