The Lesley University agreement is not only good news; it is a wakeup call to institutions and parents: learn your child’s rights. Section 504 in public schools and the ADA in places of public accommodation are laws that afford access to our children. We don’t have to change the laws. The laws are already on our side. We need only take advantage of them.
O’Brien-Heinzen thinks the extent of the Lesley University accommodations reveal what the Justice Department thinks about food allergies – “that these are significant impairments affecting people’s lives in a major way, and that a university must accommodate these students.”
To many parents, the Lesley University concessions would be like a dream come true. Imagine if we could get these accommodations for our children! I would even argue that schools and universities are only the beginning. Case by case, parents can let schools, colleges, PTOs, museums, and camps know that they must find ways to safely include our children.
Nonetheless, there are still thousands of elementary schools, high schools and universities across the United States that have yet to recognize food allergies or celiac disease as disabling conditions and, because of that, students are denied the safety and inclusion to which they are entitled. I hope the Lesley settlement will inspire all of us to insist on more for our kids.
Safe food and justice for all!
Allergic Living columnist Gina Clowes is a certified master life coach who specializes in the needs of parents of children with food allergies. She is founder of the online support group AllergyMoms.com, serving thousands worldwide.