The Mighty Logo

Court Takes Action Against Rec Center That Banned Autistic Boy From Locker Room

After one mother’s 5-year-old son on the autism spectrum was banned from the women’s locker room at the Adams Butzel Recreation Center in Detroit, she sought help from the U.S. Attorneys office.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade confirmed to the Detroit Free Press on Monday that the rec center has now modified its rules, which prohibited children older than 18 months from using locker rooms designated for the opposite sex.

The mother, whose name was not mentioned in the statement, asked to bring her son into the women’s locker room because he needed help with his swimsuit. But the recreation center denied her request, telling her she either needed to bring a male relative to assist the child, allow a male staff member to help the child in the men’s locker room, or visit another club.

The woman declined these options because she wanted to help her son at the recreation center closest to her home, reported local news site ClickOnDetroit.com, and she then filed a complaint with the U.S. Attorneys office.

“Parents of children with disabilities work hard to make sure that their children have the same opportunities for recreation as children without disabilities,” McQuade said in a statement to the Detroit Free Press. “Our office is committed to supporting these families by working with them to bring down barriers that may be in their children’s way.”

McQuade added that the city agreed to implement a new policy “requiring reasonable modifications to the center’s locker room policies for children with disabilities.” Children accompanied by an adult member of the opposite sex will now be allowed to change in a curtained section of the locker room designated for members of the adult’s sex, and children accompanied by an adult will also be allowed to use the lifeguards’ locker room.

Staff at the Adams Butzel Recreation Center will receive training on the new policy and their obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in public accommodation, employment and transportation, among other areas.

Conversations 6