Disabilities and Absenteeism, #WontBeErased, Native American Invisibility

October 24, 2018

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of more than 26,000 students ages 5 to 17 found that those with at least one developmental disability were twice as likely to be chronically absent from school. Students with more than one developmental disability were even more likely to qualify as chronically absent. Even when researchers controlled for demographics and other physical health conditions, they found that students with developmental disabilities still faced increased odds of absenteeism. The rates of absenteeism varied depending on students’ specific disabilities: 14 percent for those with an intellectual disability, 9 percent for those with autism, 7.2 percent for those with a developmental delay, and 5.2 percent for those with ADHD. According to the researchers, this relationship between the number and type of developmental disability and school attendance could exacerbate student challenges: “In general, chronic school absenteeism may negatively impact long-term educational achievement, and this effect could be increased among children with DDs.”

Report: School Absences More Frequent For Kids With Disabilities, by Shaun Heasley for DisabilityScoop

Members and allies of the transgender community are using the hashtag #WontBeErased in response to a leaked memo from the Department of Health and Human Services, which proposes that the definition of sex be narrowed to exclude transgender people. If the Justice Department determines that the proposal is legal, the Labor, Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services departments would operate with a definition of sex as “either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with.” The new definition would be enforced in Title IX statutes and if there were any question about one’s sex, genetic testing would be utilized. Catherine E. Lhamon, the former head of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights under the Obama Administration, responded to the news: “This takes a position that what the medical community understands about their patients—what people understand about themselves — is irrelevant because the government disagrees.” She added that the change “quite simply negates the humanity of people.”

‘Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration, by Erica L. Green, Katie Benner, and Robert Pear for The New York TImes


Despite statistics that overwhelmingly show that Native Americans face some of the highest rates of systemic and individual violence in the country, a study released in July found that two-thirds of Americans “don’t believe Native people experience significant racial discrimination.” According to Reclaiming Native Truth, a nationwide project to counter discrimination and erasure of Native Americans, this dissonance comes about not by “individual failings, but rather from the systemic erasure of Native people from K-12 education, mainstream news, and pop culture.” For example, only three Native American actors appeared in popular TV shows between 1987 and 2007, and only four states in the U.S. teach students about this country’s history of operating Indian boarding schools. A 2015 report even found that “95 of the first 100 Google image search results for ‘Native American’ are historical representations.” This invisibility precludes support for not only Native American rights, but their humanity as well. As journalist Rebecca Nagle points out, “We are taught that racism occurs when a group of people is seen as different, as other. We are not taught that racism occurs when a group of people is not seen at all.” Peyton Boyd, 15-year-old sophomore and member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, says, “[My peers] think that we really aren’t people, in a way…It really hurts when I realize everyone assumes that I’m not Native. And when I tell them that I am—I’ll even tell them my tribes—they still try and justify in their minds that I’m not.”

Invisibility is the Modern Form of Racism Against Native Americans, by Rebecca Nagle of Teen Vogue