TAKE ACTION: Join Lawrence Stallworth II, a 20-year-old who learned he was HIV-positive while a senior in high school, by taking a stand against discrimination, stigma and fear. Demand that the Milton Hershey School publicly apologize for discriminating against a 13-year-old HIV-positive student.
The Milton Hershey School promises to "nurture and educate children in social and financial need to lead fulfilling and productive lives" -- unless you happen to be living with HIV.
The school recently rejected the application of a 13-year-old young man -- publicly citing his HIV-positive status as the reason for his rejection. In a written statement, the school attempted to justify their illegal action, saying "In order to protect our children in this unique environment, we cannot accommodate the needs of students with chronic communicable diseases that pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others."
People living with HIV do not pose any kind of health threat to those around them. Educators, in particular, should know better -- this is 2011, not 1985! We don’t know what kind of sex education they teach at the Milton Hershey School, but it might be time for the administrators and admissions staff to retake the class.
Thankfully, the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania has joined this young man and his family as they fight for his right to education unhindered by ignorance and fear. It is particularly disappointing to see such small-minded bigotry promoted by an educational institution.
We were outraged to hear about this young man’s situation, but -- as we observe World AIDS Day this week -- this story of blatant discrimination serves as a shocking reminder that people living with HIV and AIDS still face stigma each and every day across the U.S. and around the world.
Together, we can make a difference -- for this young man and so many others. Let's get to work!
In case it’s not covered in your school’s sex education class, HIV is only transmitted by four fluids: semen, vaginal fluid, blood and breast milk. To assume that an HIV-positive young man would put other students at risk for infection by simply attending your school goes against basic medical science and common sense.
The recent actions of the Milton Hershey School sadly proves how much work remains to end the stigma and discrimination people living with HIV face each and every day.
One would expect that an educational institution as respected as yours would be an ally not an adversary in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
I urge you to reverse your decision and welcome this young man at the Milton Hershey School. You have the opportunity to show that young people living with HIV deserve the same nurturing and supportive educational environment as their peers.