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The coded language of Family-friendly

May 15, 2018

As Memorial Day nears, thoughts of swimming in glistening pools dance through many heads. Perhaps you imagine a family-friendly scene much like the one Jeff Seidel described in his piece about the Glyndon Swim Club first featured in the Community Times, and then the Baltimore Sun.

When Glyndon Swim Club’s signs advertising membership appeared along Butler Road this spring, my mind drifted back even farther to the days I spent at the pool with my cousins.

Inspired by these memories and those signs, I attempted to purchase a gift membership to that same pool. However, it quickly became apparent that the pool wasn’t just family-friendly, it was moreso exclusively-family.

David, a recent acquaintance of mine, lives just a few blocks away from Glyndon Pool. He lives in a home with several other individuals – they live in a single family home with a wheelchair ramp and home aides hired to care for them.

When I first approached the pool about a membership, I was told all about the ways they were ADA compliant, but that David and his housemates lived in a facility and therefore they did not qualify for a “family membership.”

I was told that my gift membership ($655 plus the two books of additional guest passes I intended to purchase), would not be honored. I was told that I would have to purchase a membership for each individual living at this address and also any individual accompanying the residents.

I pushed back and asked Glyndon Swim Club’s stockholders, to reevaluate what it means to be a community pool in 2018; I expected them to consider at least one new membership level that is more inclusive for the lived realities of ALL people who call Glyndon home. They refused to do so. In the end, I was able receive a refund from PayPal because I did not receive the membership I intended to purchase.

What I am realizing is that David and his housemates ability to enjoy the pool this summer isn’t a matter of their ability, it is a matter of his community being unwilling to make it possible for them to join them by not recognizing the lived reality of disabled people.

I shouldn’t be surprised. Our country’s President mocked a disabled reporter, and our Congress is currently trying to pass H.R. 620 which according to the ACLU, “is unnecessary and disingenuous… it could do real harm to people with disabilities.”

I agree with them wholeheartedly when they say, “We’ve come too far to turn back the clock to days when people with disabilities were excluded from society and couldn’t live full lives.” When you are swimming at a community pool this summer, I hope you look around you and notice, who isn’t there and ask yourself, “why?”

[This was submitted as a Letter to the Editor at the Sun paper as well.]

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