Can’t Fight Prejudice with Prejudice: Responding To Westminster Teacher’s Defensive Facebook Post

A couple weeks ago, a teacher in Westminster, Colorado named Peter got fired from posting a defensive post on Facebook. The post targets parents of children with special needs.

The post reads, “I’m so tired of hearing about special needs kids. They’ll be fine. They were retarded before Covid they’ll still be retarded after. So let’s just keep those kids at home and when this passes they can come back to school. Do you really think they’ll be any different after a year of staying home with their parents? Sounds like someone doesn’t want to deal with their special needs kid. Sorry you — got pregnant and had a retarded kid. Your problem not mine. And yes I’m a f****ing teacher. (meh emoji).”

Many individuals have shared their feelings on social media about it. It is time to share mine. It took me some time to figure out how exactly I felt. One thing I cannot tolerate is atrocious discrimination against disabled individuals or any other minority. Peter’s words reeked of complete ignorance and animosity. He should have thought about the consequences of posting something so vicious. It was unjust for him to use “R-word” and attacked special needs parents brutally. 

Special needs families already have enough to deal with so much, especially during this crazy time. If Peter was really a teacher, he should have done a bit of research to understand the perspectives of special needs parents concerning school procedures during Covid-19 before stating his opinion. Only if he knew what it is like to raise a special needs child….

There is literally no to describe the emotional turmoil a family goes through once doctors diagnose a child with a disability. Not only the parents or guardians have the responsibility of raising the child, they also instantly become generals of an endless heart-wrenching battle with no training whatsoever.

It is such a shame that many specialists, doctors, teachers, etc sometimes become opponents instead of allies. My mother went to war with public school officials when they tried to keep me out of most regular ED classes. Even my social worker didn’t help advocate my right to receive a proper education. It didn’t matter what they believed. She spoke up because she had to. Oh and yeah, she was only nineteen or twenty at the time and barely could predict the outcome. All she knew is that I was more than my disability and the world needs to see it too.

Unfortunately, many special needs families have to deal with the same unfair judgment and only a few will win the fight. I understand that many officials don’t have the time or resources to figure out exactly what each student needs to succeed. I can’t imagine how difficult running a school/classroom is. However, I believe school boards should hold more meetings on how to educate teachers and other officials about the importance of inclusion and fairness.

The more people learn, the less they will judge. Although I strongly believe Peter deserved to lose his job, I also believe that people should have not quickly made him seem like a heartless, horrible person on social media. Beliefs are created out of experiences and influences. Maybe Peter never encountered a disabled citizen in public growing up. Maybe nobody taught him about inclusion well. Or maybe he had a terrible experience with a special needs parent or student.

I hate to say it, but there are a few special needs parents or guardians that actually don’t want to take care of their own children. Sometimes they abuse or neglect the child. When that happens,  teachers or school aides become the ones who become the protectors and caregivers. It can be an emotionally draining experience for anyone.  

Some special needs students react violently without meaning to.  I have experienced a mentally disabled student biting a teacher’s aide’s arm. The student literally drew blood and left a nasty bruise. Thankfully, the teacher’s aide understood that it was an accident. Maybe a special needs student insulted Peter similarly and he got defended.

I am not trying to say that it was excusable for Peter to attack the disabled community in such a matter. I just think it is unnecessary to fight prejudice with prejudice. We don’t know his story like he doesn’t know ours. The best thing to do is respecting people’s perceptions without making quick judgments.

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