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    Posted July 31, 2013 by
    Glendale, California
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    Inadvertent Discrimination


    Inadvertent Discrimination



    We're making progress. Here's the latest update.

    We had a personal conversation with the extremely empathetic reporter that wrote the story. He's not ignoring the situation, he's not immune to the scenario, and he's a far from uncaring. His initial quoted response: "I can assure you Lt Richardson & CPD have gotten the message loud & clear"- Jay Warren WCPO **tag Jay Warren WCPO** (twitter he's @jaywarrenwcpo)

    Stay tuned & we'll keep you updated.

    Doug Yakich


    Have you ever been discriminated against, not for the color of your skin or your nationality, not for your sexual orientation or even the type of clothes you choose to wear, but for a medical condition which was not a result of a poor choice but the result of a disease or even cancer? Every day people living with ostomies are faced with discrimination because they essentially poop or pee in a bag. Walking down the street, assuming the individual is discreet, no one would reasonably know someone has an ostomy unless they personally know the individual or was informed by the individual that he/she is an ostomy patient.


    Now before I dabble to long into my story, I want to recognize that many people may not view this as discrimination or even see anything wrong by the actions you are about to read about. I respect those differences in views, but understand that if you are not an ostomy patient or know anyone with one, you are not subject to the discrimination; therefore you may not recognize it as clearly as those of us who do have an ostomy.


    Recently, a report was given by a reporter named Jay Warren, who works for ABC affiliate WCPO ABC 9 in Cincinnati, Ohio about a program the Cincinnati Police department has created to educate teens about gangs and gun use. The article (http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/news/region_west_cincinnati/price_hill/cincinnati-police-hope-to-sway-teens-with-photos-of-colostomy-bags-paralyzed-shooting-victims) explained a new policy/program in place to use the image of someone with an ostomy as a reason not join a gang or use a gun. Suggesting that in someway you don’t want to end up dead or living with an ostomy. Just the mere thought of this approach has greatly upset many who are part of the ostomy community. When the article mentioned, “You're not killed, but you're walking around with a colostomy bag and that's just not the way to get a girl's attention by limping down Warsaw Avenue with a colostomy bag,” it is suggesting that either people with ostomies limp or are somehow unattractive walking down the street is offensive and appalling. It is actions like this that continually feed into the negative conations’ about having an ostomy that misrepresents what an ostomy means to people who have one.

    It confusing to this writer, why the Cincinnati Police Department would use a colostomy as a way to scare kids, as opposed to a lost leg, hand or arm as a result of a gunshot baffles me. We have Veterans returning from their tour of duty protecting our great country, who have been injured and as a result have an ostomy bag. Are they now unattractive? No and neither are any of the over 700,000 people who live with some type of ostomy just here in the United States.

    Ostomy patients are everywhere. They are lawyers and accountants, teachers and librarians, factory workers and mechanics, construction workers and business owners. They are fireman and policemen, doctors and nurses, government leaders and even actors. We come in all shapes and sizes, all races and nationalities, women and men, elderly and children and everything in between. But each of our journeys to this condition are different. For some it is a very difficult situation and to this day they feel ashamed or disfigured. While others stand up and are willing to show their bag to anyone who passes by. Despite these differences, we all have one common denominator. We have an ostomy. And we are living to tell about it.

    When articles like this appear and an ostomy is used in way that feeds the negative connotations associated with having one, it is yet another hill for us to climb and overcome. We are continually trying to build a bridge to acceptance and educate the general public in an effort to raise awareness. This mistake by the Cincinnati Police Department was not intended to hurt anyone, however, their actions, and ultimately this report, have shown how they inadvertently discriminated over 700,000 people in the United States.

    The reason for this article is not to just shed a poor light on the Police Department, instead it is yet another opportunity we have to educate America about Ostomies. I wrote in May how a national conversation has to begin (http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/16/health/ostomy-essay-yakich-irpt/index.html?hpt=he_bn4&is_LR=1), I think this is the perfect place to start and I hope that, with a little pressure by those of us in our tight knit community, the Cincinnati Police Department will issue a full apology and that the local ABC affiliate will take this opportunity to create an Ostomy Awareness Campaign in the local area.

    This all could have been avoided if a greater awareness was built in America concerning ostomies. Ironically the United Ostomy Associations of America 4th National Conference is being held in Jacksonville, Florida, August 7-10, 2013. This story will no doubt be the talk of the conference, the Cincinnati Police Department has an opportunity to apologize and right a wrong so that this can be an important part of us building a bridge to acceptance!

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