Saturday, July 30, 2011

Meet My Friend Joe

Joe and I have been friends for over thirty years.  Abortion is the one topic that we agree not to talk about.  Joe is Catholic and vehemently "pro-life".  I am anti-misogyny-tricked-out-as-religion and vehemently pro-choice-by-the-one-most-competent-to-make-the-decision, i.e., the woman.

Some years ago, Joe's daughter became pregnant out of wedlock.  Abortion was out of the question in that house (At least she had the sense not to marry the father and did finish school.)  Like my friend Mary, this girl's child came into the world with cerebral palsy.  This particular child is bright as a button; has good eyesight; but does need a walker or a wheelchair to get around.

The time came to enroll the grandchild in grade school.  For Joe it was a no brainer that he would bust his butt a few more years to pay for another generation of his family to attend a Catholic school on the south side of Columbus, Ohio.  Joe's family had been members of that parish for three generations; this child would be the fourth.

Joe or his daughter, I am not sure which, went to the school to talk to the powers that be about letting the child attend the school on a trial basis.  If it did not work out, the family would make other arrangements for the child.  The administrator running the school said flat out that she was not comfortable with a disabled child attending school there.  The parish priest backed the administrator.

After three generations, Joe and his family now attend another parish.  The child attends a different Catholic school across town.  From the way Joe related the story to me, I can not quite tell whether the administrator was more put off by the child's physical disabilities or the fact that the child was born out of wedlock.

There may be no appeal within the church, but that Catholic school accepts federal funds for education and is therefore subject to certain secular rules of fair play.  Joe's daughter filed a complaint with the federal government.  In her complaint, she asks that the school's personnel be required to complete training to work with disabled pupils in light of the federal tax dollars all of us have paid to that school to date.

Oh, and one more thing.  The mother wants not one penny in damages for herself or her child.  She does want an apology.

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