Apologize for their inadvertent discrimination towards Ostomy Patients

Apologize for their inadvertent discrimination towards Ostomy Patients

    1. Douglas Yakich
    2. Petition by

      Douglas Yakich

      Glendale, CA

August 2013


Douglas Yakich: Through an aggressive campaign, we utilized Social media to get the word out about the offensive comments made by the Cincinnati Police Department regarding the use of a colostomy. We created a hashtag #OstomyIsNotATragedy and immediately support came from around the world. A CNNiReport was created and then a couple of days later a Huffington Post blogger posted her own story. In less the 12 days, we were able to convince the Cincinnati Police Department to issue an official apology and we received on the last day of our national conference. From the very beginning, the overwhelming response from individuals all around the world was incredible. They called and emailed the Police and news station, flooding their phone lines. We worked secretly behind the scenes to talk to the key people involved and come to a mutual agreement on the type of response the ostomy community was looking for. It took the efforts of two people, one with a national voice, the other a inspiring individual right from the Cincinnati area. Armed with all of the signatures of this petition, the comments left by people, the posting the responses across the web, we compiled over 250 pages of support and presented this to the Chief of Police in Cincinnati. Never has any organization had the courage to apologize in such a public way and we applaud the Cincinnati Police Department for their apology and the quickness to respond. We hope this incident will help build awareness and continue to build a bridge of acceptance to all of those living with an ostomy in the United States and around the world!

Inadvertent Discrimination


UPDATE - August 21, 2013 - VICTORY!!! - We are happy to report that this petition is a victory as the Cincinnati Police Department issued an official apology.  Please follow this link to read more about the apology, which includes a PDF scan of the signed apology document, a video of the announcement and a few other links that helped us reach our goal.  Special Thank you to the Cincinnati Police Department for listenign to our community and responding in a way that will help raise greater awareness throught the United States and countries around the world!

Thank you

Doug Yakich

(IMPORTANT UPDATE 8/1/13 - While it is not a sure sign of victory, we are making great strides on this campaign.  Please copy and past this exact statement on social media, including hash tags, It is vital for us to move forward with this campaign.

We're making progress. Here's the latest update.

Tag: Douglas Yakich & Alison Rothbaum Banks

hashtag: #OstomyIsNotATragedy

Alison had a personal conversation with the extremely empathetic reporter that wrote the story. He's not ignoring the situation, he's not immune to the scenario, and he's a far from uncaring. His initial quoted response: "I can assure you Lt Richardson & CPD have gotten the message loud & clear"- Jay Warren WCPO **tag Jay Warren WCPO** (twitter he's @jaywarrenwcpo)


Stay tuned & we'll keep you updated.


Doug Yakich)

(this article also appears on CNN iReport - http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1013370)

Have you ever been discriminated against, not for the color of your skin or your nationality, not for your sexual orientation or even the type of clothes you choose to wear, but for a medical condition which was not a result of a poor choice but the result of a disease or even cancer? Every day people living with ostomies are faced with discrimination because they essentially poop or pee in a bag. Walking down the street, assuming the individual is discreet, no one would reasonably know someone has an ostomy unless they personally know the individual or was informed by the individual that he/she is an ostomy patient.

Recently, a report was given by a reporter named Jay Warren, who works for ABC affiliate WCPO ABC 9 in Cincinnati, Ohio about a program the Cincinnati Police department has created to educate teens about gangs and gun use. The article (http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/news/region_west_cincinnati/price_hill/cincinnati-police-hope-to-sway-teens-with-photos-of-colostomy-bags-paralyzed-shooting-victims) explained a new policy/program in place to use the image of someone with an ostomy as a reason not join a gang or use a gun. Suggesting that in someway you don’t want to end up dead or living with an ostomy. Just the mere thought of this approach has greatly upset many who are part of the ostomy community. When the article mentioned, “You're not killed, but you're walking around with a colostomy bag and that's just not the way to get a girl's attention by limping down Warsaw Avenue with a colostomy bag,” it is suggesting that either people with ostomies limp or are somehow unattractive walking down the street is offensive and appalling. It is actions like this that continually feed into the negative conations’ about having an ostomy that misrepresents what an ostomy means to people who have one.

It confusing to this writer, why the Cincinnati Police Department would use a colostomy as a way to scare kids, as opposed to a lost leg, hand or arm as a result of a gunshot baffles me. We have Veterans returning from their tour of duty protecting our great country, who have been injured and as a result have an ostomy bag. Are they now unattractive? No and neither are any of the over 700,000 people who live with some type of ostomy just here in the United States.

Ostomy patients are everywhere. They are lawyers and accountants, teachers and librarians, factory workers and mechanics, construction workers and business owners. They are fireman and policemen, doctors and nurses, government leaders and even actors. We come in all shapes and sizes, all races and nationalities, women and men, elderly and children and everything in between. But each of our journeys to this condition are different. For some it is a very difficult situation and to this day they feel ashamed or disfigured. While others stand up and are willing to show their bag to anyone who passes by. Despite these differences, we all have one common denominator. We have an ostomy. And we are living to tell about it.

When articles like this appear and an ostomy is used in way that feeds the negative connotations associated with having one, it is yet another hill for us to climb and overcome. We are continually trying to build a bridge to acceptance and educate the general public in an effort to raise awareness. This mistake by the Cincinnati Police Department was not intended to hurt anyone, however, their actions, and ultimately this report, have shown how they inadvertently discriminated over 700,000 people in the United States.

The reason for this article is not to just shed a poor light on the Police Department, instead it is yet another opportunity we have to educate America about Ostomies. I wrote in May how a national conversation has to begin (http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/16/health/ostomy-essay-yakich-irpt/index.html?hpt=he_bn4&is_LR=1), I think this is the perfect place to start and I hope that, with a little pressure by those of us in our tight knit community, the Cincinnati Police Department will issue a full apology and that the local ABC affiliate will take this opportunity to create an Ostomy Awareness Campaign in the local area.

This all could have been avoided if a greater awareness was built in America concerning ostomies. Ironically the United Ostomy Associations of America 4th National Conference is being held in Jacksonville, Florida, August 7-10, 2013. This story will no doubt be the talk of the conference, the Cincinnati Police Department has an opportunity to apologize and right a wrong so that this can be an important part of us building a bridge to acceptance!

So please sign this petition so that we can send a group of ostomy patients to leaders of the Cincinnati Police Department to have them issue a formal apology. This is vital in an effort to begin a national conversation. Thank you for supporting!

Apologize for their inadvertent discrimination towards Ostomy Patients

[Your name]

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 2,500 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Jeremy Letter PORTLAND, OR
      • 11 months ago

      Our son was born with a disorder that required an ostomy, and may at some point lead to the need for another ostomy. This distaste really hits home.

    • Lori Wallace COCOA, FL
      • 11 months ago

      I am a Certified Ostomy Nurse and see almost daily how ostomy surgery can change a person's life.

      • 11 months ago

      My sister has an ileo and people's attitude towards the condition is awful, . More awareness is need, I also one day may have one.

      • 11 months ago

      As a young female living with a ostomy having it labelled as not a way to attract a partner is disgusting, law enforcement should be ashamed with themselves, it is discrimination to all people with an ostomy. Law enforcement need to be called to a meeting themselves and given an education about ostomys before they pass judgement on something they obviously know nothing about.

    • cheryl Leamer SNOHOMISH, WA
      • 11 months ago

      Colon cancer is nothing to discriminate about.


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