Glenn Wilson, an Ohio teen with Down syndrome, has always dreamed of being part of a cheer squad.
Cheerleading runs in his family, and Glenn had spent countless summers watching his older cousins participate in cheer competitions. He knew when he grew older, it was something he wanted to do. “It’s so good, it’s so fun,” he said in an interview with Fox28.
Last spring, Glenn auditioned for the West High School cheer squad— and was ecstatic when he made the team.
“He was the happiest kid when he found out,” Glenn’s uncle, Ray Valentine, told Metro UK. “You would have thought he had just been handed a million dollars and three puppies.”
“He practiced his cheers all summer at home, and he was showing us his cheers, his splits, and his heel stretches.”
When Glenn was accepted as a cheerleader, he was told to expect paperwork in the mail. When fall rolled ’round, and they hadn’t received anything, his family started to worry.
“I got a call, and it said he’d made the squad and said I would be receiving mail, but I never got it,” said Carolyn Sue Morris, Glenn’s grandmother. She then got a hold of Glenn’s uncle, who tried to sort it all out.
When Ray got a hold of the cheerleading advisor and asked about Glenn’s missing cheerleading forms, he got an answer that made his jaw drop.
“She told me that Glenn wasn’t part of the team,” said Ray. And when he continued pressing for answers, the coach downright said his nephew “didn’t fit the image” she wanted for her squad.
“This is just an absolute mess. It is total discrimination.”
As can be imagined Ray was shocked by what the coach said— and poor Glenn was, understandably, devasted from the news.
“At first, he was traumatized,” said Ray.
“His feelings were hurt. He was upset.”
Ray attended a school board meeting to discuss the coach’s unbelievable response.
“When I spoke about it at the Columbus city school board meeting people were speechless and in total shock,” he said. Still, the loving uncle considers the meeting a waste of his time.
“I thought we were going to get some sort of resolution to this, but it’s still not happening.”
Scott Varner, a spokesperson for the school board stated: “We’re trying to figure out who made those mistakes and exactly what happened”— but, he does confirm that Glenn has been made a full member of the school’s cheerleading team.
Still, Glenn’s family isn’t satisfied with the school’s response and is calling for the coach to be fired.
“It’s unfair because I’m sure a lot of other children have been discriminated against like has been,” said his grandmother. “They’ve just had no one to step up to the plate for them.”
“I love him with all my heart, and he deserves his place on the team.”
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