Having to deal with Diabetes can be challenging; but having to deal with diabetes discrimination is unacceptable. There are policies and laws in place that are unfair to those afflicted with diabetes and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) works hard to get these polices changed. They follow these steps to end discrimination in schools and the workplace: educate, negotiate, litigate, and legislate.
Discrimination, in general, is usually based on ignorance (or lack of education). Diabetes is not a visible disability and in turn many people do not know about the treatment required.
Children can be cruel and for children that have a disability or medical issue, discrimination can run rampant and also getting the proper care from the school system can be difficult at times. As a parent, know the laws that are available to protect your child. It is important that a child wear a shoe tag, necklace or bracelet indicating they have diabetes. Provide a care plan for teachers and caregivers of your child, so they have a clear understanding of what diabetes is, what to expect and how to react.
In addition, before the school year starts, meet with the school administrator and/or principal to find out their policies regarding diabetic students and schedule a meeting with each of your child’s teachers. During these meetings, explain that your child has diabetes and provide them with written information about the disease (the ADA will provide you with informative pamphlets). Explain that your child must have something to eat at specific times and provide the teachers and/or nurse with extra high sugar snacks in case of emergency.
Educate yourself on what constitutes discrimination in the workplace; an employer is required to make “reasonable” accommodations for people with diabetes and they would include, but not limited to:
- Breaks to have a snack take medication and/or check blood sugar readings.
- Resources to keep food and supplies nearby.
- Inject insulin at work (or a private area is provided).
- Leave the office for recuperation, treatment, training or anything related to diabetes
- Providing a large computer screen for people with retinopathy (a vision deterioration directly caused by diabetes).
There are times that only legal action will end discrimination in your school system, workplace, public areas, and correction facilities. The first step would be to filing a formal charge of discrimination with the proper government branch agency. For example; file with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) or your local anti-discrimination agency if you work for a private company. If you work for the government, file your complaint with the Internal Equal Employment Opportunity Office within the agency that the discrimination has occurred. Do not delay, as the window of opportunity is very small. If these agencies do not resolve your issue to your satisfaction, a lawsuit can be filed.
If you feel that you are being discriminated against, by police officials, at schools, workplace or correctional facilities, the American Diabetes Association is the first place to seek assistance. They will provide up to date information, support and legal assistance for diabetes discrimination.