It’s something I am not ashamed of. Well, not much anyway. I have about a billion pet peeves. I don’t like overhead light. I drink Coke, not Pepsi. (They are NOT the same thing.) And I keep lettuce off burgers because the thought of warm lettuce seems pretty gross to me. (Lettuce is a salad thing.) But I have another pet peeve that gets magnified this time of year. Maybe it is because one of my nephews just graduated from high school. (Congrats, Michael!) But this issue has been on my mind often in the last several weeks.
I hate it when people make a huge deal out of people with disabilities going to prom.
For the past several years I’ve seen at least one story on either local or national news about a star football player taking his friend with Down Syndrome to the prom. Usually, a coach is interviewed about how proud he is of this football player and the “sacrifice” that he is making because this football player “could have gone to prom with anyone.” The story typically includes the mother of either the football player or the student with the disability in tears over the gesture. Sometimes the reverse happens and the most popular cheerleader in school goes to the prom with a guy who has a disability.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love gestures of friendship and I think it is great when any student anywhere can go to their prom. I just don’t like news stories about it. If friends want to go to prom together, that doesn’t deserve national attention. The whole thing screams inequality to me and so whenever I see a story like it, I cringe a bit.
So, when I saw a story on Facebook a few weeks ago, I was getting my cringe face ready. A mom was sitting with her daughter who had a disability. The daughter was nonverbal, and mom was putting a message on Facebook to see if she could find anyone to take her daughter to the girl’s prom. The mom talked about her daughter’s special needs, how she was going to graduate from high school in a few weeks, and how much she wanted to have the experience of going to her prom. This is the kind of situation I balk at, but the story doesn’t end there. The post started to get some responses. And according to Yahoo Lifestyle, one was a Saint Catharine’s, Ontario student named Zack Bowman, 21. “I respected Shannon and Gabby’s courage too much to ignore the post,” Bowman, who plays ice hockey at Brock University, said when he was interviewed by Yahoo Lifestyle.
Although Bowman had never met Gabby or Shannon before, he said, “It felt like fate.”
But Gabby had some choices — Jeremy Renton, a local police constable who coaches Gabby’s special-needs sled hockey team, was also interested. “There’s no way I would let this girl go to prom alone,” Renton, 30, also said to Yahoo Lifestyle. “I asked Shannon if I could come too.”
The article in Yahoo Lifestyle went on to say “On prom night, both men picked up Gabby — Renton in full uniform and Bowman wearing a gray suit and carrying a floral corsage and matching boutonnieres for both men. Gabby wore a gray dress with blue beading and a taffeta skirt.”
As a result of this Facebook post, two guys responded. So, on prom night, this girl with the disability had two dates accompany her to the event. Both wore suits and brought corsages. Both were in pictures to commemorate the occasion. And all of them had a great time as they danced the night away.
It was after I read the whole story that it hit me. This girl had two dates. Two. Different Guys. Took Her To. Her Prom. All I can say is:” You GO, girl!” That is one of the most badass situations that I have ever heard of.
What star football player would not like to have two beauties on his arm? What head cheerleader wouldn’t love going on a date with two handsome men? It probably will never happen in the lifetime of most people, but Gabby has the pictures to prove that she did not go on any ordinary date. Two guys asked to go with her. She said yes to both. And I think that is simply fabulous.
Instead of cringing at this scenario I am cheering about it! And I have mentioned it so often to so many people in the last few weeks that some of them might want me to just be quiet about it at this point.
It might even be one of their pet peeves.