Honoring the Americans with Disabilities Act
PFLAG National intern Sam Krauss (they/them) was a government and sociology double major who, in 2020, was going into their senior year at Smith College.
Each year on July 26th we celebrate the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and we give thanks to the disability community for this law. The ADA laid the framework for how a marginalized group could ask for what it needed and enforce their rights to access this world after it went into law. The ADA assures that people with disabilities do not have to disclose their disabilities in order to be deemed worthy of living full lives. Thanks to protections through the ADA, people do not have to fear retaliation by potential employers or landlords because they learned about their mental illness or HIV status in order to enjoy their right to fair employment and housing.
A key lesson from the ADA is its definition of “public accommodation,” and the types of places that are considered “public.” Thanks to the ADA, sidewalks have ramps, crosswalks make noise, buildings have accessible elevators, hotels have wide hallways, stores have automatic doors, and schools have support services for people who need them.
The ADA has laid an impressive framework, but it has taken many years of disability activism to bring cities, employers, and businesses to where we are today–and there is still work to be done. The disability community does not have marriage equality because income caps to maintain Social Security and Medicaid services are often exceeded upon marriage. People should not have to choose between marrying their partners and keeping their personal care. Additionally, for those who need long-term support services, like assistance getting out of bed, bathing, dressing, and preparing meals, the only affordable option is to move to an institution. This risks forcing people out of the homes they have built in the neighborhoods where they have formed their communities. The Disability Integration Act would address this problem, but it has not moved through its Senate Committee since being introduced on January 15, 2019. The ADA is one of many pieces of legislation working to eradicate discrimination. So, let’s celebrate the ADA and then continue working for the freedom of self-determination for all marginalized people.
Keep the conversation going:
- Disability Tropes | TV Tropes
- “Showing Up in Public in a Disabled Trans Body” | Christian McMahon | Rooted in Rights
- “How to Be an Ally of the Disability Community” | Anna Corbitt | Paraquad
- “LGBT People with Disabilities: 2019 Report” | LGBT Movement Advancement Project
- “Pride Month Too Often Overlooks LGBTQ Members With Disabilities” | Sarah Kim | Forbes
- Marriage Equality Is Still Not a Reality: Disabled People and the Right to Marry | Eryn Star | NCIL Advocacy Monitor
- LGBTQ People with Disabilities | New research shows LGBTQ people are more likely to have a disability than the general population.
- Respectability | Articles, books, and other resources on the intersection of disability and LGBTQ+ issues.