More than anything, Adam, 15, was looking forward to his school’s homecoming dance. The “Haunted Homecoming” was slated to be one of the most memorable occasions of the entire school year. Not only was the program loaded with lots of ghoulishly fun activities for the students at Barden River High School to engage in, but it was also going to be the social event all of Adam’s friends would attend – and he did not want to miss it for the world.
However, Adam was born with a condition called spina bifida, which affects him every day. The condition causes breathing problems for Adam, which does make everyday activities too easy for Adam. Nevertheless, Adam believes that spina bifida is a diagnosis – not a destiny – so he works his tail off to ensure that the condition does not define his life.
But on the day of his school’s highly-anticipated “Haunted Homecoming,” Adam was shocked when the school administrators turned him away at the door. Their reason for turning away the disabled student was that his dress code was not up to snuff. What exactly was wrong with his outfit, you wonder? Well, Adam was wearing a crisp button-down dress shirt, pressed black trousers, and comfortable shoes to accommodate his disability. But he also had orthopedic braces – and because of his outfit, the school did not want him in the dance hall with the other students.
Adam was crestfallen and embarrassed. Being turned away at homecoming for a “dress code violation” is just about the most shameful thing a high school student can go through. Not only did all his friends have fun without him, but he also had to sit home alone and sulk about the injustice he had endured because he was born with spina bifida.
You can imagine how furious his mother, Debbie Moyer Paul, was to learn that her son had been mistreated. She turned to Facebook to expose Braden River High School for discriminating against her disabled son and to get justice for her beloved boy.
Debbie wrote, “He has missed out on SO much in the last few years. He was actually excited.”
However, the school stuck by its extremely strict dress code policy, which had eight rules the boys had to follow – whether they had a legitimate disability or not.
Former students of the school commented on Debbie’s Facebook post and wrote that they were not surprised that the school discriminated against the disabled teenager.
“Apparently they haven’t changed a bit,” Melissa Toleli, who was a 2010 graduate from Braden River High School.
Because a lot of people started talking about the injustice Adam experienced at the homecoming dance, principal Jennifer Gilray eventually had to speak out about it. She remarked that some fifty students, including Adam, were denied entry to the homecoming dance because of dress code violations. However, she said that most of those students altered their outfit and were eventually allowed to enter. In the end, Principal Gilray only had to block five students from attending the homecoming dance due to their outfits. Adam, who struggled to breathe due to his condition, was one of those.
“We hope that this will be a valuable learning experience in communications for our school as well as our parents and students as we move forward,” she said.
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