Raleigh, N.C. — A Raleigh father says he has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice after a YMCA after-school program declined to accept his son, who has Type I diabetes.
Bruce Hatcher, whose son is a kindergartner at Underwood GT Magnet Elementary School, says YMCA officials told him that they do not administer shots and would not give his son a shot if the boy’s blood sugar dropped too low.
“It’s more than just a shot. It’s a life-saving shot,” said Hatcher, who asked that his son’s name not be included. “If you had a kid, or anyone had a kid in this situation, you would understand a little better.”
The shot comes from a device called a glucagon kit, which can quickly raise the blood sugar levels of someone nearing a diabetic coma. Hatcher says it’s easy enough for anyone to use.
“Can I do it? I did it. I do it,” he said.
For weeks, Hatcher has been in contact with the YMCA and Wake County Public School System, arguing that not allowing his son in the after-school program is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In a statement given to WRAL News on Aug. 26, the YMCA said, "We strongly deny that we are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and we take this situation very seriously … This is not a simple legal issue with ample guidance readily available."
WRAL News spoke with three different legal advocates for people with disabilities who all disagreed with the YMCA's stance. According to the Child Care Law Center, there have been four recent cases where child care providers were told they had to comply with the medical needs of Type I diabetics.
In some cases, religious groups – including the YMCA – don’t have to comply with the ADA. However, there were two cases – one in California and one in Nebraska – where the justice department got involved, and the YMCA agreed to comply.
Hatcher says the Wake school system, which rents buildings to the YMCA, wouldn't get involved, even though the rental agreement between the two says that groups must comply with federal laws.
“They have after-school programs in 51 some schools, and none of them are caring for diabetics,” Hatcher said.
In a new statement late last week, the YMCA said it is now reconsidering its protocol and hoped for a solution in Hatcher’s case. However, Hatcher says he wants the solution to cover all after-school YMCA programs, not just the one at his son's school. He says he hopes his fight will help other parents.