Praise Department of Education for Giving Disabled Athletes Equal Opportunities

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Target: U.S. Department of Education

Goal: Praise lawmakers for demanding schools provide qualified disabled students with equal opportunities for athletic participation.

Recently, the Obama Administration issued a letter instructing school administrators to provide qualified students with disabilities equal opportunities for participation in sports. Official reports from the Government Accountability Office show that disabled students historically participate in sports at much lower rates than able-bodied students. This recent move by the Department of Education is an important step towards creating equality for people with disabilities and eliminating discrimination solely based on their condition.

Of course, the government is not telling schools to put less talented students on the varsity team simply because they are disabled.  This would not achieve equality. It has been a struggle in recent decades for United States lawmakers to enact legislation which effectively addresses discrimination against certain groups while successfully avoiding the effects of reverse discrimination against previously advantaged groups.  Furthermore, any suggestions that giving disabled students an advantage now will compensate for years of negative treatment is mistaken. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

However, this recent action taken by the U.S. Department of Education hit the nail on the head. It effectively addressed the problem; the automatic exclusion of disabled students from sports teams. Disabled students have historically been excluded from sports teams on account of their disabilities. Unfair and discriminatory, this robs disabled students of potential athletic opportunities. Recognizing the problem at hand, lawmakers ordered school administrators to provide reasonable accommodation for qualified disabled students to participate in sports. Providing accommodation gives them equal opportunities without compromising the opportunities of non-disabled students. All students are given equal opportunity to participate, regardless of their physical condition. Once all students are afforded the same opportunity to play, talent and ability will then determine whether or not they earn a spot on the team.

While this is not a direct law, schools who do not oblige face federal lawsuits. Therefore, it it expected to be treated seriously and will hopefully afford talented disabled students with opportunities they previously did not have.

Sign this petition and thank the Department of Education for enacting this important legislation and eliminating discrimination against disabled students.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear United States Department of Education,

Recently, the Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague letter instructing school administrators to provide reasonable accommodation for qualified student athletes. This was intended to afford previously unavailable opportunities to talented disabled students.

This mandate is expected to resonate throughout the nation. Schools certainly strive for equality for all students and will no doubt provide measures that will give disabled students the opportunities they deserve. While this is not a law, it is unlikely that schools with regard it with negligence. Federal punishment aside, schools are expected to do everything in their power to provide students with opportunities for success.

I would like to commend the Department of Education and all administration involved for taking this important action. Not only does this demand equal opportunities for disabled students; it also emphasizes the true definition of equality. ‘Equality’ is often misinterpreted as overcompensation at the expense of the previously advantaged group, a hapless conundrum which only results in reverse discrimination. Thank you for recognizing the difference and taking measures that strive for the former and not the latter.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Wounded Warrior Regiment via Flickr

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