Your Daughter is a "Liability".
“Your daughter is a liability”.
“It would be bad business to give your daughter a spot in our classroom.”
I was devastated.
Let me start at the beginning.
My daughter has hypogammaglobulinemia just as I do. Hypogammaglobulinemia. Say that five times fast. This condition is complicated and comes with a plethora of issues, but overall, with specialists and the right medical interventions, it is manageable.
Quick science lesson.
Hypogammaglobulinemia is a problem with the immune system that prevents it from making enough antibodies called immunoglobulins. Antibodies are proteins that help your body recognize and fight off foreign invaders like bacteria, and viruses. Without enough antibodies, you are more likely to get infections.
Layman’s terms: Hypogammaglobulinemia means our bodies do not produce the antibodies, or proteins that help fight infections, that most healthy immune systems do.
I am a conservative mom when it comes to dealing with germs; even before COVID came to town. Ask anyone, I was always the mom that had hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, and travel size Clorox wipes. I am not a germ freak because I want to be, I am cautious because my daughter has a condition that makes her more vulnerable to infections. A common cold for your healthy child, could land my daughter in the hospital with pneumonia or bronchitis.
When COVID came around, it terrified me. As the summer of 2020 rolled through, we started thinking about what we would do for preschool in the fall. We consulted with her doctors, and hesitantly began looking at different programs when they gave us the green light for her to attend a 4-year-old preschool program. What they said made sense; with all the kids wearing masks, and the increased hand washing and lower numbers, it was probably safer for her to attend school now than before. Science was telling them that children were considered high risk if they had severe conditions such as heart issues or heightened respiratory concerns, so my daughter was cleared to go to school.
I began touring different schools and programs. Each one had their own list of pros and cons. When I called each program or school, I always shared my daughter's health condition. After speaking over the phone with someone from this particular school, and explaining her medical condition, we were invited for a tour. A few days after the tour we decided it would be a good school for my daughter, so we emailed that we were interested in enrolling her…but never received a response.
At first, I gave them the benefit of the doubt; they were busy, it was a strange year, they would get back to me soon. Weeks went by. I emailed. I called and left voicemails. No one got back to me. We began to worry that by the time we got in touch with someone the spots would be full, and my daughter would not get one.
Finally, one day, I called and explained that I was not leaving another voice mail but needed to speak with the head of the program to figure out what was going on. Call it mother's intuition, call it a hunch, but I was beginning to feel that there was something strange happening. Eventually, the principal got on the phone with me. She started off by asking me to explain my daughter’s health condition; which I had already explained to them in great detail before we even went to see the school. The principal then insinuated that I was being a negligent mother by allowing my daughter to go to school because it didn’t seem “safe”.
My breath quite literally left my body. This woman, the head of a private school, sat on the other end of this phone and destroyed me. She went on to say that no one reached out because they were not sure that my daughter was a good fit for the program due to her health condition, that my daughter would be a liability for her school, and along with that, bad business to allow her to enroll.
It became clear that this school was purposely ignoring my attempt to register my daughter for their 4 year old program, hoping that the spots filled up, so they didn’t have to risk “discriminating” against my daughter due to her medical condition. I was shaking.
I took a deep breath, and proceeded to inform this woman of how incorrect, vile, and disappointing she was. The children enrolled in her school who had diabetes, and asthma, were more at risk for Covid complications than my daughter. I explained that we see the best specialists around, and with their recommendations and support, we decided to enroll my daughter in a part time preschool program for 4-year-olds. I reminded her of how hypocritical and ignorant she was being for discriminating against my daughter for having a health condition that in no way, put anyone else in jeopardy, let alone be called a liability. She asked me to stop using the word discriminating; I couldn't.
By the end of our conversation, she hesitantly said she would hold a spot for my daughter as long as I had a medical note from her doctors saying it was safe for her to attend school. Clearly, I denied that offer. It was clear that my daughter wasn’t welcomed at her school, that my daughter wouldn’t be treated fairly or kindly, and that this particular woman did not have the love, grace or spirit she claims to have as the head of her school.
When I hung up the phone I sobbed. My heart broke for my daughter, and the discrimination that prevented her from having the same opportunities as every other child, in this situation. If my daughter was a typical, healthy child, she would have been offered the spot in the program, and not treated as a liability, who wasn’t “good enough”. Not only did this school discriminate against my child for her health condition, but by ignoring us and not communicating their intentions of not allowing her to enroll, they wasted 3 weeks of our time preventing us from enrolling her in other programs. I worried that now, at this late time in summer, I would not be able to get her a spot in a good program, especially because every school had decreased the number of spots available due to Covid.
It is perfectly clear now, that my daughter was not meant to be at that school. It was not the right fit for her, and I need to have more faith in the “everything happens for a reason” ideal, but the way it happened was extremely painful for my family.
Thankfully, my sweet girl now attends a preschool program that is perfect for her. They take every reasonable precaution to keep the kids safe and the school open, while at the same time, creating a loving and kind environment. Her current school celebrates diversity and differences, which warms my heart and helps my daughter have a clearer picture for what the real world will look like. I know, my daughter is where she is supposed to be, but the path we had to travel to get there was harder than it should have been.
For all the parents out there, who have children who may be seen to the world as a “liability”, treated differently, or deprived experiences because of their condition, I see you. Whether it is due to medical conditions, mental health concerns, or behavioral issues, I am sorry you have to raise your babies in a world that does not always celebrate your child for the miracle they are. I am sorry there are still people out there who lack the empathy, grace and understanding that everyone has something good to offer this world, and it is our job as adults to help children find their path and utilize their strengths.
It is so incredibly important that we all raise our children to be non-judgmental, open-minded, and kind. Our world is more beautiful because of the diversity within it, and I will always raise my babies with that in mind.