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I Have a Disability, and I Deserved to Walk Across the Stage at My Graduation

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My entire high school career, I have been separated from my peers. I take the elevator while they take the stairs. They can walk up hills, I cannot.

After battling through high school and graduating with a 90 percent average and entrance into every university I applied to, I have a lot to celebrate.

I proved that nothing can hold me back even with over 400 absences
in my high school career. I have completed math assignments in hospital rooms and crammed biology before MRI’s. I have made it through school days with no sleep and no food. It has not been easy, but I made it.

I worked hard and did the best I could.

After all of this you made accessibility an after thought.

You have separated me from my peers and not given me the chance to walk and accept my diploma like the rest of the class.

You have stairs I must climb to get to my seat and a hill I must walk down.

Have you forgotten this is my day too?

I deserve the same recognition as everyone else.

Your speech about “treasuring this moment because it only happens once,” applies to everyone but me.

You have stolen this moment and milestone from me.

From a girl who learned to walk three times, I dreamt about the day I got to walk across that stage. That I would do it walking. I can walk but I don’t get that moment. I invited my physical therapist so she could bear witness to a moment that will no longer happen.

This isn’t a question of my peer being a gentlemen and helping me up the stairs while creating a scene.

This isn’t a question of what looks best. This isn’t a question of how you have done things in the past.

I deserve the same opportunity to walk across the stage as everyone else. I deserve to be recognized in the same manor as everyone else.

As today marks a milestone, I hope you know this isn’t something to shrug off. You have caused a day of disappointment instead of celebration.

I hope as we move forward, kids everywhere get to be recognized for the huge accomplishment that is graduating by crossing that stage – just the same as anyone else. I hope we learn from our mistakes because this is a big one.

Follow this journey on Bailey Mae Blog

Originally published: July 25, 2016
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