Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

April 1, 2005

Wheelchair Pageant Winner Loses Crown

Filed under: — Different River @ 1:45 pm

for standing. Not walking, just standing.

APPLETON, Wis. (AP) — Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin has been stripped of her title because pageant officials say she can stand – and point to a newspaper picture as proof.

Janeal Lee, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a scooter, was snapped by The Post-Crescent newspaper standing among her high school math students.

“I’ve been made to feel as if I can’t represent the disabled citizens of Wisconsin because I’m not disabled enough,” Lee said Thursday.

The move by the state pageant officials, led by coordinator Gina Hackel, is supported by the national board.

Candidates for the crown have to “mostly be seen in the public using their wheelchairs or scooters,” said Judy Hoit, Ms. Wheelchair America’s treasurer. “Otherwise you’ve got women who are in their wheelchairs all the time and they get offended if they see someone standing up. We can’t have title holders out there walking when they’re seen in the public.

This is so bizarre I just don’t know what to say. She can occassionally stand up from her scooter, but she should be “seen in the public” doing so because this will offend people? So, according to Ms. Wheelchair America, disabled people should not do try hard to do as many things as they are capabale of doing so if those things conflict with stereotypes about what disabled people are supposed to be able to do.

(Hat tip: Chana Meira. No, this is not an April Fool.)

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