Parenting

When the conversation about diversity doesn’t include disabilities

After attending a conference, Anchel wonders what happens when you exclude disability from discussions about diversity.

When I look at this photo I'm so proud that Syona will grow up with a definition of diversity that includes everyone.

Last week I had the opportunity to talk with some really smart people and learn a lot about the world of diversity, equity and inclusion. As a woman, a visible minority and now a mother to a daughter that is a visible minority and has a visible disability, this is a topic that is especially important to our family.

The two-day conference I attended included leaders and experts on the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion. Many of them practice in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), which is known for its diversity. These were big conversations that explored the roots of systemic and cultural issues and took an honest look at some of the oppressive practices that are part of our system.

In the span of two days and approximately 10 hours of conversations, work sessions and keynote addresses, the areas of gender, cultural and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) issues were discussed extensively.

However, disability issues were mentioned — in passing — a handful of times.

This concerns me. If the people that are interested in diversity, equity and inclusion aren’t including those with disabilities in their conversations, then who is?

I always say I think it is important for Syona to have diverse friends. When I use that term I am talking about children from a variety of faiths, ethnicities, orientations and families. I’m also talking about children with various diagnoses (or no diagnoses), of varying physical, verbal and cognitive capabilities. I’m talking about children with genetic disorders, autism, neurological issues, other special needs and “typically” developing children. In short, I’m talking about everyone.

When I use the term diversity I am referring to diversity of all types – not just gender, racial or LGBT.

I have this idealistic vision of the future. A place where we embrace diversity, and equity isn’t even a relevant concept anymore because it exists without us thinking about it and inclusion is a given.

Will this ever happen? I have no idea, but I hope so. But if we aren’t including those with disabilities in the conversation about diversity, we need to rethink our concept of inclusion and figure out what it really means.

What do you think?