Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The D-Word?

I lost track of time last week in a big way, but fear not because I am back this week. This week I am relaying an article I found two weeks ago about a little boy who was deprived of his hamburger

Brief backstory: A boy with Celiac went on a field trip that included lunch at Pizza Hut (which, obviously, is not the most glutard-friendly restaurant). Since the boy couldn't eat the pizza that the rest of the group was about to eat, his mom got him a bunless burger from McDonalds. The Pizza Hut staff wouldn't let him bring his burger in. The mom claims that this constitutes discrimination against disability, since her son's food allergy compromises his ability to partake in "major life activities."   

This leads me to wonder: Are we glutards disabled? One of the original authors of the Americans with Disabilities Act agrees with the mother -- the act was revised to include a more lenient definition of "major life activities." Before typing this sentence, I hadn't really given much thought to eating as a major life activity -- it was just something I did. Something that is more effortful than it used to be, but something I still take for granted. While I do agree that gluten intolerance can hugely interfere with eating, which is a major, life-sustaining activity, it has never occurred to me that I might be considered disabled. Lots of people have dietary restrictions -- either required or optional. I don't think of myself as any different than a vegetarian. Thanks to labeling requirements, I can easily ascertain what is in most of the food I buy. If I am disabled, I probably have the least disabling disability ever. I can easily shape and navigate my world to meet my needs. If a restaurant can't provide me with satisfying options, I can choose to spend my money somewhere else. However, things are a lot harder when you're a kid and you have less control over your environment. Maybe there should be some protections in place to help individuals with food allergies to eat safely and satisfyingly when out at restaurants. Where to draw the line, I do not know. Do you have thoughts?* Do you think food allergies constitute a disability? 

*Sometimes I don't have thoughts. Usually when I'm tired. 

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