complaint with Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice raised against Colorado High School Athletics Association (CHSAA) on behalf of Ethan Orr, a sixteen-year-old Colorado Springs resident.
According to the complaint, Orr, who has type 1 diabetes, was not allowed to compete in the state swimming championships last June because he was wearing a glucose monitor on his arm. Furthermore, the document confirms that the rest of his relay team has been excluded as a result.
“I knew I would have to fight my illness in order to swim, but I never imagined I would have to fight discrimination in order to swim,” Orr says in a statement. “If I did not have diabetes, the team would not be disqualified from the last event of the meet.”
Kishinevsky and Raikin Law firm lawyer Igor Raikin, who is handling the complaint on behalf of Or and his family, does not see the incident as isolated. “This is another in a long line of discriminatory actions the CHSAA has engaged in against Colorado children with disabilities,” he says. “This kid really has challenges because he has type 1 diabetes. He doesn’t need to make his life any more difficult because of the CHSAA.”
Raikin has particularly harsh words for CHSAA Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green and others in the organization who “act as if they are not being held accountable to anyone. She needs to resign,” he adds.
Neither Blanford-Green nor several CHSAA representatives have responded WestwardComment requests.
The Justice Department’s complaint, which asserts that CHSAA violated parts of Americans with Disabilities Act, notes Orr is a freshman at Manitou Springs High School but swims at Coronado High School, since his home school does not have a boys’ swimming program. Because of his condition, Orr wears a glucose monitor that is attached to his arm with duct tape. Adds an extra layer of tape while swimming to hold it in place. The complaint asserts that “when Ethan is swimming, his blood sugar level can vary, so constant monitoring of his levels is critical to correct any changes in blood sugar and ensure he is not suffering from hypo or hyperglycemia, or diabetic ketoacidosis.” “.
With the Coronado High School team, Orr qualified for the CHSAA state championships in three classes — the men’s 200-yard medley relay, the men’s 200-yard freestyle relay and the men’s 400-yard freestyle relay — and hasn’t been questioned about his glucose monitoring in at least seven previous races.
That changed June 25 during the championship meet, which was held at the Veterans Memorial Aquatics Center in Thornton. CHSAA swimming official Kent Christie reportedly approached Orr about the screen before questioning his coach Nathan Holm. Christie asked if Orr had a doctor’s note regarding the device — something unnecessary, the complaint says, because he “has a Section 504-approved diabetes plan.” When Holm asserted that he had no such remark, he dismissed Kristi Orr and the rest of his team jointly.
Even after obtaining the results of a swim meet confirming disqualification and an email thread that includes Holm and a CHSAA representative, Raykin is unsure of the regulatory rule that Orr is supposed to have violated. However, it is speculated that it is a ban on tape that can increase a competitor’s “velocity, buoyancy or body pressure” or that it is used to “treat” a medical condition. In his opinion, none of these decrees can be applied to a glucose monitor.
Raikin believes: “This is simply blatant discrimination against a child with a disability, and it has led to unnecessary and unfair consequences for him, his teammates and the school.” for children with disabilities.”
Click to read a file Justice Department complaint to Ethan Orr.