The following article was written by Hannah Belayachi, Director of Public Relations, using data from the following sources: The National Institutes of Health, The Global Down Syndrome Foundation, and The National Down Syndrome Society.
In November 2017, in Payson, Utah, Logan Blythe was honored by Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) ranking of an Eagle Scout, only for it to be taken away from him a day later. Chd Blythe, Logan’s father, explained that Logan’s low-functioning Down Syndrome prevents him from doing some of the tasks the Boy Scout Foundation requires to earn the Eagle Scout rank. Because of it, the BSA won’t honor badges that Logan has earned in his community. When questioned about whether or not Logan will ever have the chance to become an Eagle Scout, the BSA released the following statement:
The Boy Scouts of America is committed to making sure every Scout benefits from the program and has the opportunity to earn the Eagle Scout rank. The process of achieving the Eagle Scout rank is rigorous for any Scout, but it is designed so that accommodations can be made for Scouts with disabilities or special needs.
In the United States, approximately 6,000 babies a year are born with Down Syndrome. Currently, there are more that 400,000 people, both adults and children, living with Down Syndrome, most dealing with the same discrimination that Logan does.
What is Down Syndrome?
Trisomy 21, commonly known as Down Syndrome, occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. It is associated with intellectual disability (typically at a mild or moderate level), a characteristic facial appearance, and weak muscle tone in infancy. People affected with Down Syndrome have an increased risk of developing several medical conditions, including celiac disease and leukemia, as well as experiencing a gradual decline in cognitive ability.
Discrimination Against Down Syndrome
- In the United States, about 67% of unborn babies who are found to have Down Syndrome are aborted.
- Most people who discriminate against people with Down Syndrome do so because they have been provided outdated, inaccurate information about the condition. The perpetuation of erroneous assumptions about people with Down syndrome is that they are “unpredictable, uneducable, unemployable burdens on society.”
- The NIH does not fund research that will improve the lives of people with Down Syndrome at a comparable level as other conditions or diseases.
- Hans Galjaard, a Dutch physician researching prenatal testing, does not take into account the fact that people with Down Syndrome judge a better life than those without it.
World Down Syndrome Day: Awareness
On 19 December 2011, the United Nations General Assembly declared March 21st as World Down Syndrome Day. The day "invites all Member States, relevant organizations of the United Nations system and other international organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, to observe World Down Syndrome Day in an appropriate manner, in order to raise public awareness of Down syndrome.” World Events occur in every continent. The National Association for Down Syndrome leads a public awareness campaign through presentations throughout the Chicago area as well as offering bookmarks with different themes relating to Down Syndrome. Their legislative agenda includes bringing equal access to health care, education, economic self-sufficiency, employment, and community integration to those affected by Down Syndrome.
Having a child with Down Syndrome does not mean that they are a lost cause. About 57% of persons affected are currently employed. About 69% can use the computer for work, browsing, or getting a degree. The Americans with Disabilities Act states that if you run a business, you cannot discriminate against people based off disability. Down Syndrome patients have every right to live their lives to the fullest and completing their goals, whether it be to become an Eagle Scout, run a business, or even go to school. They are still people and can live their lives to the fullest. They can rise above their disability, not letting it define who they are or what they do.There is a path for everyone that leads to success, even if it may not look like our own.