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To the Trump Administration, From a Chronically Ill Teen

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When Betsy Devos took office, as a student, an advocate for disability and a disabled person, I was crushed. Rather than seeing someone who is supposed to defend my rights and my education, I saw someone whose goal was the opposite. I believe this woman is planning to leave us students with disabilities in the dust, eliminate accommodations, and just see how we do.

Without my accommodations, I cannot function well in a mainstream classroom. I may not appear to be very ill, but without access to the elevator, extended time on tests, and the ability to have more absences than normal, I would not be able to succeed in school. I would constantly be called down to the Dean’s office about absences, I would be passing out every time I took the stairs, and most importantly I would be unable to keep up in my honors classes. I worked hard to be in these classes. I pushed myself all of middle school to get to where I am right now, and I do not deserve to have that taken away from me just because I became sick last January.

I deserve to feel safe in my own classroom. I deserve to feel safe in my own school. I deserve to feel safe in my own country. Unfortunately, right now I do not feel safe in my own country. I feel personally victimized as an American with a disability, and I do not know what my future holds with the Trump administration. I don’t know if I will lose my 504 plan, I don’t know if I will watch my friends die as they lose their insurance, and I do not know if my future will become even more unclear than it already is.

Time will give me the answers to these questions that haunt me in my sleep, the questions that keep me up at night. Currently, I have no idea what these next four years hold. I may be perfectly safe and not realize it, but I may also lose everything. The hardest part about this wait is not the lack of knowledge, but the fact that the Trump administration is doing nothing to reassure the largest minority in America that we will be kept safe. So many children have a 504 plan or IEP and need individualized care to keep up in school. These needs of so many children are why the Obama administration administered the “no child left behind” plan, but the Trump administration seems to be promoting the “every child left behind” plan. I am not saying that the Obama administration was anywhere near perfect, but under President Obama there was so much less left to fate. People with disabilities could feel more secure in their futures.

I am not only an American with a disability, but I am an American who spends great amounts of time working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They are some of the greatest people I have ever met. The special education classroom is a light in my life — I know I can always walk in to find great joy. Yes, these children, my friends, may need extra help just like I do, but that does not mean they cannot thrive or they don’t deserve to thrive. Those of us with disabilities deserve to be able to speak out, keep up in school, and be active members in society.

To the Trump administration: please protect your largest minority. Protect the people living in constant pain and fear. Do not repeal the preexisting condition clause. Do not defund special education. Most importantly, do make us feel safe. To the Congress voting on upcoming issues: please vote to preserve my rights as a disabled American. Vote to replace the ACA with a good alternative. Vote to keep funding for those of us with 504 plans and IEPs. Vote to keep me thriving. Vote to save my life.

Editor’s note: This story reflects an individual’s experience and is not an endorsement from The Mighty. We believe in sharing a variety of perspectives from our community.

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Originally published: March 6, 2017
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