When People Say 'Inclusion Has Gone Too Far'


A professor of special education at Temple University has recently asked the question, “Has inclusion gone too far?”

Comedian Tom Segura used a Netflix special to state his belief that asking people not to use the “r” word is political correctness run amok.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif) and Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) have introduced legislation that would water down the Americans With Disabilities Act because they feel it is too frivolous in its current form.

These are three instances where society has been harmed because of a perception that the disability rights movement has gone too far.

There have been other circumstances where people thought actions supporting human rights had gone too far.

Governor George Wallace said that desegregation was going too far. Rep. Edwin Y. Webb (D-NC) stated that giving women the right to vote had gone too far. Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis denied marriage licenses because she believed marriage equality had gone too far.

When one is not part of the group that has been discriminated against, it is sometimes easy to not see the need for certain actions or to be influenced by groups that feel inconvenienced by those actions. Sometimes laws that have a negative impact on a segment of our society aren’t based on ill will, but ignorance. An example is the ban on plastic straws that has been implemented in some areas. While these bans have been put in place to protect our environment, they were done so without considering the needs of people with certain disabilities. Other times, laws are put in place because of an institutional belief that some people do not matter as much as others. An obvious example in the United States was slavery.

Over 30 years of research has proven inclusion is the best way to ensure a positive future for students with disabilities. Even though the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act calls for students to be placed in the Least Restrictive Environment and for their plans to be treated on an individual basis and not part of a cookie cutter, one size fits all policy, many schools use this as a license to say “for this individual, a segregated classroom is the Least Restrictive Environment.” A quick look will show that too many schools apply this to all of their special education students, invalidating the individualized mandate. In some states, those students are pushed into a modified diploma track. The modified diploma does not provide a student with the employment and educational opportunities that a regular diploma provides. The result is a bleak future.

The use of slurs and gags that rely on stereotypes of a particular group of people have contributed to the public perception that some groups are better than others. Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, realized that his depictions of Asians earlier in his career were not fair. Some of his later books, such as the “Star Bellied Sneetches” and “Horton Hears a Who,” attempted to reverse this wrong by showing that all people were of equal value. Recently, someone was caught on video calling another driver the “n” word. In a much later separate incident, the police were called on an African-American woman who was quietly eating her lunch in a college cafeteria. Slurs influence how people are perceived. Those perceptions influence how they are treated.

The Americans With Disabilities Act was designed to give all people access to society. Repealing or watering down that law will result in some people being restricted from certain places. Some people have the opinion that costs to businesses are more important than accessibility concerns.

Has the push for people with disabilities to be respected, included, and valued gone too far? The answer lies in these three examples. The fact that there is a backlash against according dignity to those with disabilities proves it has not gone far enough.

Getty image by Sladic.


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