Friday, April 20th, 2012
A high-school junior with Down syndrome, who has played on his school’s basketball and football teams, may have to sit on the sidelines for his senior year because he has turned 19 and now violates the maximum age allowed by the school district.
Eric Dompierre attends Ishpeming High School in Michigan, where he has experienced some thrilling moments in sports, including scoring a 3-point shot in basketball and kicking a field goal in football. His parents have always been thrilled and grateful for his acceptance and level of participation, and they are fighting to allow him to play during his senior year. From CNN.com:
According to the constitution of the Michigan High School Athletic League, students who turn 19 before September 1 are not allowed to compete in sports. The rule is intended to prevent the possibility of injury or competitive advantage from an older more developed athlete playing against younger students.
For the past two years Eric’s parents, with the support of the Ishpeming High School District have tried to get the rule changed so Eric can play during his senior year.
But a committee with the Michigan High School Athletic Association has refused two proposals which would allow kids like Eric to participate.
James Derocher is the president of that committee says “our members have to change the constitution and at this point in time they’ve told us ‘no.’ ”
Derocher says one of the concerns is that if they let Eric play, other 19-year-olds may come along in the future and claim a disability for a competitive advantage.
Image: Football, via Shutterstock.
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Thursday, April 19th, 2012
A piece of legislation was signed into law today in Michigan, requiring health insurance companies to pay for therapies, medications, and treatments related to autism spectrum disorders (ASD) for children up to age 18. NPR.org has more on some potential limitations of the otherwise exciting development:
The new law, which will go into effect on October 1, requires insurance companies to pay for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis and treatment for children up to age 18.
The state law does not, however, compel “self-funded” insurance plans to carry autism coverage. Those health insurance plans are regulated by federal laws.
Most large employers, such as GM, Home Depot, DTE Energy, and even the State of Michigan provide benefits through a “self-funded health care plan.”
To get self-funded insurers to adopt autism coverage, the new state law establishes for an incentive program to encourage employers with self-funded insurance plans to adopt autism coverage.
Image: Gavel, via Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
Anti-bullying legislation in Michigan passed last week, but as Jezebel.com reports, the law contains a highly controversial provision, added at the last minute by Republican lawmakers, that exempts from the law anyone who makes comments based on their religious beliefs:
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Michigan lawmakers have been battling for years over enacting anti-bullying legislation, and the Detroit News reports that last week the state senate finally let the law pass after adding this paragraph:
“This section does not abridge the rights under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States or under Article 1 of the state Constitution of 1963 of a school employee, school volunteers, or a pupil’s parent or guardian. This section does not prohibit a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil’s parent or guardian.”
The bill passed 26-11 with every Democrat voting against it. The legislation is named “Matt’s Safe School Law,” and even the father of the boy its named for says the exemption is wrong. Kevin Epling, whose 14-year-old son killed himself in 2002 after being harassed by bullies, said he’s “ashamed” of the bill, adding that the law:
“Would basically say it is okay to bully or to ignore instances of bullying based on your own religious beliefs and/or moral convictions, which is contrary to the rest of the bill and it is definitely contrary to what I’ve been telling students, to step in and step up when they see this taking place in their school. As a society, we need to decrease the bystander effect, those who sit idly by and watch as things happen.”
In response to the controversy, State Senator Rick Jones said, “I don’t believe for one minute that is the intent of this legislation … Certainly a child should not be allowed to go up to another child and say he’s going to hell.” However it’s hard to imagine what purpose the exeption serves if it isn’t to protect students who believe homosexuality is a sin. As Amy Sullivan writes in Time,
“The same religious conservatives who applaud the religious exemption in Michigan’s anti-bullying bill would be appalled if it protected a Muslim student in Dearborn who defended bullying a Christian classmate by saying he considered her an infidel.”