An open letter to Miraloma Elementary’s Principal
Dear Principal Bass,
Congratulations on the recent decision to make Miraloma Elementary School more inclusive to children who are either transgender or do not identify themselves with traditional gender norms. The Center for Disability Rights is always supportive when a person or group creates a more inclusive community for everyone. We believe that inclusion should represent all communities whether in the LGBTQIA spectrum or in the Disability Community.
While watching the report on The Today Show of the changes at your school, it did not appear that there were doors labeled to show that the bathrooms were accessible to children with physical disabilities. More than that, the bathroom stalls did not appear to be accessible to a child who uses a wheelchair. We understand that the report represented a very small portion of the school, but in joining you in the fight for equality, we want to make sure that everyone is being included.
We would like to see that children with disabilities (gender neutral or not) are taken into account with these changes to the school. This is for your students who do not conform to the ableist standards that expect them to walk. The children interviewed make excellent points about how having integrated male and female restrooms is positive. Much of what they say applies to children with mobility disabilities who must also use segregated facilities.
Your school is clearly taking the lead in ending bias against non-gender conforming individuals, but let’s not also reinforce the idea that segregation of the disabled is appropriate and expected. You should address this while the spotlight is on Miraloma, so that future generations will recognize the problem with ableist segregation. This is particularly poignant in a city that locks up people with disabilities in one of the largest nursing facilities in the country rather than providing accessible, affordable, integrated housing. We wish you and your fellow staff and students well in striving for a more inclusive community!
The Center for Disability Rights
Rochester, New York