A teenager who suffers from a genetic condition is frustrated after learning she is unable to go to her high school prom due to too many unexplained absences.
Triss Hunter lives with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a painful genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue that causes her joints to stretch further than normal.
The British Columbia resident was informed by administrators at École Mission Senior Secondary School that she wouldn’t be able to attend prom next week because she had missed too much school, a decision she and her mother believe is unfair.
“I have chronic pain and chronic dislocation and my dislocations can happen at any moment,” Hunter told CTV Vancouver. “I tried to explain that I have to go to physiotherapy three times a week and I have to go to doctors’ appointments at any random time.”
Angus Wilson, the school’s superintendant says all parents and students are aware that they are given up to two weeks to notify the Fraser Valley school of an absence.
“(Mission Secondary School) is very flexible in making allowances and adaptations for every student and their individual situation,” wrote Wilson in a statement to CTV Vancouver. Wilson also noted that with excused medical absences, students are able to attend prom.
Hunter’s mother says she’s very upset with the school’s decision.
“I am angry,” Sarah Hunter told news reporters. “I am frustrated and very disappointed because I never got to go to my prom and this would be really exciting for her.”
For Hunter and her family, this is another frustrating obstacle in living with a chronic disease. Hunter, who attends school with a therapy dog says she wishes the school would be understanding.
“If I had a chance to choose how I was born, I wouldn’t have a disability,” Hunter said. “I would choose not to have it — but because my disability is genetic there’s no cure – there’s no choice, I have to live with it.”
While adherence to school policy is important, the school’s unwillingness to show compassion to Hunter is shameful. Hunter’s absences aren’t due to teenage rebellion, but are caused by a very real and serious condition that she will live with for the rest of her life.
The world is already not inclusive of people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Why would a school, which is supposed to foster growth and be a safe space for students, deny a young person the chance to experience this age-old rite of passage?
Sure, prom sucks — but Hunter deserves to discover that on her own just like the rest of us. A little extra paperwork, perhaps an essay for extra-credit, a compromise can be reached to satisfy both parties while maintaining the school’s policies.