There has been a fair amount of chatter in the media recently about a Hamilton, Ontario family who has filed a human right’s complaint against their daughter’s school. You can read about it here and here. The six year old girl has life threatening, anaphylactic allergies to dairy and egg. The family has asked the school to ban these items from the school.
I read about this story and have been following with interest for obvious reasons. My 8 year old recently outgrew his life threatening dairy, egg and banana allergies. He still has an anaphylactic tree nut allergy.
My first thoughts are those of empathy. I know all too well what it’s like to live in constant fear of an everyday food. I know how heartbreaking it is when your child is excluded. I know what it’s like to have to fight the urge to totally freak out about potential dangers to allergens. Without knowing this family and knowing all the details of this case, I don’t want to judge. For whatever reason, the family feels unsatisfied with what the school has done to keep their daughter safe. I feel saddened that it has been escalated to a human right complaint.
It also brings up, once again, the topic of food bans. I’m going to say what I always say. I do not believe in food bans. To be more specific, I don’t believe that food bans are a good or effective way of managing severe food allergies for all the reasons that I’ve listed in my post Why I Don’t Believe in Food Bans (which has seen a lot of traffic in the last week).
Sadly, I think all these types of situations do for the allergy community is make us look bad. School wide food bans of common everyday foods are unreasonable. (I would even go so far as to say that school wide peanut/tree nut bans are unreasonable … but that is something for another post). Asking for such makes people look unreasonable. Perhaps all it was in this case was an act of desperation. Maybe things weren’t going well with the school and this was a way to get media attention. Maybe this was part of an ask-for-more-than-what-you-actually-want strategy. I don’t know. I hope this family and the school find a resolution.
Stay tuned for part 2 to hear about how we managed my son’s allergies at his school.
Photo by Logan Brumm via Flickr.