Support Bishop Garcia Diego HS to be more inclusive of students with Learning Disabilities
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Hi, my name is Alicia Lopez and I am a 10th grader at Bishop Garcia Diego High School in Santa Barbara, CA and I need your support in helping build awareness and compassion at my school for those with learning differences. I have a severe math disability that I just had identified this year. I have a ton of understanding of other’s challenges because I myself have had to learn to persevere over the years with my math disability and think outside the box. I understand that life isn’t always straight forward and I bring this compassion to the school community from first hand experience. If they are excluding students with disabilities that require accommodations and adjustments then the Bishop community is greatly missing an opportunity to practice acceptance and compassion around diversity. I was a Volleyball Team Captain in the fall, I have over 200 hours of community service, I actively participate in The Ethnic Studies Now club in Santa Barbara, I am a supportive and compassionate friend to my peers at school on a daily basis, and an advocate for others. I have a 3.65 GPA and have A’s and B’s in all my classes. The only subject I can’t do due to my learning difference is math, which I have spent years trying to overcome. All I am asking for is the opportunity to do math as a home study/resource class at the level that I am at due to my disability but they are unwilling to allow me to do this and have told my parents that I need to find another school because this is too much for Bishop to allow-- I must do the four years of their designated math track even though due to my disability I am unable to learn those levels of math at this time.
I am being discriminated against because I have a brain that has a math disability that doesn’t allow me to be in the normal math track and required classes at Bishop. It makes me sad that students who have disabilities cannot attend a faith based Christian education unless they are pretty much "perfect" students without learning differences. I was born with this disability—God gave me it as part of my path, and for a community that prides itself on Compassion, Perseverance, Trust, and Respect (the core values of the school and of Jesus Christ) makes me extremely sad. It hurts to think that because I have this challenge I cannot be educated in a community that I love and feel safe in because the values are ones I truly believe in and want to live my life by.
I never want another student to get surprised or excluded from this amazing school community based on the fact that they were born different. It’s not right. And that is why I am writing this petition to take a stand.
I asked for accommodations and we have had multiple extensive meetings with Bishop staff to try and set up an accommodation plan so I can still attend Bishop with their graduation requirements. I learned today that they are not willing to help me get accommodations so that I may continue to go to school there. It was a complete shock! I love Bishop, I love the people and the community, I love my teachers, all my classes, my sport teams, so not being allowed to go to Bishop because of my math disability would be heartbreaking and feels very unfair and unjust. I feel betrayed by a community that I had great trust and belief in. I believe in myself, but they don't and that hurts big time.
I am making this petition to ask for your support through a signature to make a change for all students who have learning disabilities in the future so they never have to experience what I am going through with being discriminated against because of my learning difference. All students should have a chance to go to a higher education school that has a faith based education with values that they believe in and not be thrown out because it’s too much work for the school or too hard to change requirements to accommodate a straight forward disability—I feel having people with differences only makes our community stronger and more diverse and compassionate, and it is very sad that the staff and administrators don’t see the value they are missing in asking those with disabilities to quietly leave.
Please sign this petition if you are in support of making Bishop a disability friendly community and stop the discrimination. I still love being a cardinal and want to be there through graduation so I hope this allows others like me to have a voice and a chance at an amazing education in a place they love and creates more acceptance of all students for who they are and were born to be.
With Gratitude and Hope,
Alicia Lopez, 10th Grader at Bishop Garcia Diego High School
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