Target: Arkansas’ Pea Ridge Public School District
Goal: Condemn public school district for removing three siblings because they may be infected with HIV
According to a local disability rights organization, a public school district in Arkansas recently suspended three siblings because school officials suspected that they may be infected with HIV. Their removal directly violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, which mandates that public schools cannot ban students based on their HIV status. The decision by school administrators to illegally discriminate against students because of mere suspicion of a medical condition is abhorrent and immoral and must be condemned.
Two of the three siblings in question already have disabilities and are living with a foster family. They attend a school in the Pea Ridge Public School District. However, school officials recently uncovered documentation that implicates that the birth mother and one of the siblings are HIV-positive. As a result, the school administration told the foster parents that the children could not return to school until they showed medical proof that they did not have the HIV infection. When the children attempted to go to school the following day, they were put aside in the principal’s office until their foster parents could pick them up.
School administrators have no right to demand that the students get medical tasting done right away, especially since the children would still have a legal right to attend the school even if they came up HIV-positive. This immoral decision by the school stigmatizes kids with disabilities both proven or perceived. The Disability Rights Center wants to make sure that the removed students will be able to return to their school. The superintendent of the Pea Ridge district stated that the school district consulted with legal counsel before making the decision.
In 2012, a private school in Pennsylvania incited several protests after it refused to admit a boy who tested HIV-positive. After a long and arduous legal battle with the Department of Justice, the school was forced to reverse its decision. Furthermore, the school agreed that it would provide its employees and staff with HIV sensitivity training.
Despite the technological and medical advances that allow HIV-positive Americans to live long and healthy lives, many people in the United States still possess many misconceptions about how the virus spreads. This ignorance regarding the illness has further stigmatized those with HIV and has fostered a discriminatory environment for those individuals. As a result, outreach efforts and HIV prevention programs have stalled. Please sign this petition to condemn the Pea Ridge public school district for its discriminatory decision. The stigmatization of HIV must be stopped and addressed.
Dear Arkansas’ Pea Ridge school district,
We condemn your immoral decision to remove three students because you suspect that they may be infected with HIV. Your decision violates the Americans with Disabilities Act which states that kids infected with HIV may not be banned from attending any public school. Even if the students in question test positive for HIV, they still have a legal right to attend school.
Despite the medical and technological advances that have allowed those infected with HIV to live long and healthy lives, widespread misconceptions about how the illness spreads still persists. The ignorance regarding the HIV virus has hampered outreach and HIV prevention efforts. This discrimination against those with disabilities or perceived disabilities is immoral and must be condemned.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: goofcitygoof via Flickr