Meet the new host of a children's television program in England. Cerrie Burnell was born with a limb deficiency and is missing a portion of one of her arms. This girl is freakin' adorable. She was hired, not to fill a minority quota by hiring a woman with a disability, but because she is "bright and engaging." Which is more than obvious.
Here's the kicker. Some parents are outraged. They're terrified that this girl will scare their children...give them nightmares. Right. How dare she go around being different. And in front of children? NO!
What do these parents expect to do if their kid runs into a person with disabilities in the grocery store or at school? In order to protect these kids, should I lock Reid in a bell tower for the rest of his life so his limb deficiency doesn't frighten anyone?
If this same issue was about ethnic background rather than a disability, these parents would be called racists. This is no different than discrimination against race, religion or sexual preference. It makes me sad that some parents are unwilling to use this to teach their kids about acceptance and instead they learn the very opposite. Kids are born with an open mind. If they fear this kind of difference, I would say it has a lot to do with their parents.
I realize people of all ages are naturally curious and occasionally apprehensive about disabilities. But it has been my experience that kids accept this kind of thing very easily. Of course they have questions, as do parents. Though parents more often avoid the subject and kids like to ask. And asking leads to accepting. I'm always more than happy to talk about Reid's leg when asked. I much prefer that a kid asks than is shushed by his parents. If they're old enough to ask, they tend to be old enough to understand. And once they have an answer, they move on. So far, I have not met a kid afraid of Reid because of his leg.
It seems as though the world has come quite a ways in it's acceptance of people with disabilities. They used to be locked away. And now we see people like Cerrie hosting children's shows. Awesome. But at the same time we live in a medically developed world where people can choose to abort children at the first sign of a disability long before they have a chance at life. How does that factor into acceptance?
I say way to go BBC for overlooking a disability and hiring this charming girl. Maya and Miguel on PBS has a character, Andy, with with the same. And even Clifford has a three-legged dog. We're getting there. Honestly. If kids can learn to embrace it while they're young and impressionable, maybe they'll grow up just a little better for it.
Here's a clip from the Today show last week which sparked my outrage for intolerant parents and love for the BBC and Cerrie Burnell.