Over the last two days, we’ve witnessed a flurry of action, emotion and disbelief as Clawson Public Schools Board member, Linda Grossman resigns for joking, during a public board meeting, that children with food allergies should be shot. As a public official, this is flat out unacceptable. As a decision maker, this sets the tone for other board members and the community also not take a life threatening disease seriously. Lastly, this is the opportunity we can take full advantage of and use this national attention to be heard. Once the video clip of the “shoot them” statement hit the internet, The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Action Team (FAACT) immediately sent the school board a letter outling their grave error and offered their services to assist them in finding resolution. Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) shared a statement and offered educational resources. Kids with Food Allergies (KFA) – A Division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s President and CEO, Cary Sennett, MD, PhD offered his time to speak to Clawson Board of Education President via phone or email. Clawson Public schools also posted a letter on their website concerning this inappropriate event. Placing our upset aside, we need to look at our opportunities right now. We have choices….
We can simply be angry and complain or we can take this example of how our society simply does not take life threatening food alleriges seriously and do something. When I watched the above video clip, my heart broke up into a thousand pieces. Over the last fourteen years, we’ve worked so hard to educate others. I witnessed hundreds of new allegen related products and foods hit the market, national organizations grow, more food anaphylaxis conferences born, laws passed and online resources blossom. Yet, I watched in disbelief as the same ignorance I met fourteen years ago was played out…again. For me, after my response of, “well, Ms. Grossman just lost her job”, I felt a great sadness. I felt sorrow that we are still at the bottom of the mountain trying to climb up. Then I realized that the giant wave of energy ignited by that video was a sign that we are truly half way up that mountain. Fourteen years ago, we did not have the tools that we have now and the loud voice that was just heard would have been a dull roar.
BE in AWE of our Community
I was in awe, beyond our national food allergy brethren, (pay attention to my bias here) of our community of parents, when I read about how Gina Mennet Lee, food allergy school consultant immediately posted about this issue and directly contacted each school board member. I watched the facebook conversations between Tricia Gavankar, Owner Rock Food Food Allergies, and others as they shared school board responses. I read mulitple posts from outgraged parents who bombarded board members with opinions. People were educating this board-which I believe is very much in support of positively managing and supporting students with life threatening food allergies. Other community memebers have been contacting the media in hopes of this story making headlines.
Be the opportunity.
With this energy and force under our wings, let’s consider educating our own school boards and communities. I really was inspired by this recent blog post, “Five reasons we shouldn’t joke about kids with food allergies, ” written by Dr. Matt Greenhawt, Board-certified in pediatrics and allergy and immunology at the University of Michigan. Not only does he invite Clawson board member to spend the day at the University to learn more about food allergies, he briefly shares why joking is not accepable and what it truly means to live with life threatening allergic disease.
Bravo to our national Food Allergy organizations and individuals who all stepped up and called out the Clawson Public School District Board! Now, let’s take turn this situation into a great opportunity to educate!