Anika Bjornson is a 5th grade girl in Tualatin, Oregon, whose juvenile diabetes is severe enough that she qualifies for a special service dog which tells here when her blood sugar is too high or too low. The dog basically helps keep her alive, but that's not good enough for Horizon Christian Elementary which kicked her out rather than let her bring the service dog with her.
Photo: Don Farrall/Getty
Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, no other school would be allowed to kick Bjornson out because her dog is "individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities." Because Horizon Christian Elementary is a Christian school, though, they can just ignore this law and do whatever they want.
So this is a case where Christians aren't required by law to do the right thing and as a consequence they do the exact opposite. They don't deny that Anika Bjornson needs the service dog or will be kept alive with the service dog; they just don't want the dog in the school. Their response would apply equally well if the dog were being used by anyone else, like a blind person.
Bjornson, who suffers from Type I diabetes, takes her 9-month-old lab, Bassie, with her everywhere she goes. Bassie is professionally trained to detect changes in blood sugar using scent and "paws" the 10 year old when her sugar is too high or too low.
That's how Bjornson knows to prick her finger and conduct a more detailed blood test.
"I would feel really hot and shaky, like I couldn't really balance myself," Bjornson said.
She and her mom, Debbie, recently asked her school permission to bring the service animal to class with her, thinking they were covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
But the school, Horizon Christian Elementary, said no.
This is what happens when you give religious organizations a (largely) blank check to ignore general, neutral laws. They will put their own convenience and traditional practices ahead of the lives, safety, and equality of everyone else on the planet.
You can get a good sense of what Anika Bjornson has faced from conservatives and Christians in her community by reading the comments on the article, like this one:
Ummm.. why not teach your child responsibility to take care of themselves. Teach independence not dependency.
Thank GOD my children can rely on themselves!
Actually, service dogs are trained to provide people with greater independence, not to make them dependent. We are all dependent on various things around us but service dogs (and other service animals) allows a disabled person to be live more independently because they are not reliant on constant assistance and monitoring from other human beings.
I think this comment was written by a person with no idea what diabetes is like, no idea what service animals do, and absolutely no interest in becoming better educated or informed. They "thank God" that they already know all they need and have all they need and the rest of the world can just go to the devil.
American Christianity in a nutshell.