I got the following email from one of my readers. Names have been changed or omitted to protect her privacy. Any advice for her?
I live in [state name removed]. I am fat and lesbian. I am disabled and use a power wheelchair for assisted mobility for my daily needs. I have been able to get myself enough courage to apply for city college courses, but I didn't get enough funding from financial aid, so I was directed to go to the Deptartment of Rehab by my local Center for Independent Living Advocate.
I called Rehab and made the appointment. I met with the counselor last October. My girlfriend was with me and from the moment the counselor laid eyes upon me, he gave me this disgusted look. He made his decision to deny me services in his mind but invited me into the office. He took five minutes interrogating me, belittling me and then said you're too fat, too disabled and no one will ever hire you in a wheelchair. He said the only way I could get help from Rehab was to get gastric bypass surgery and lose the weight first. He continued to cut me down by saying I was no better than a criminal who gets out of prison and asks him to buy his clothes, shoes and socks.
My girlfriend was there to get help too, but he scared her so badly she was afraid to say one word to this militant gatekeeper. I am so traumatized still by how he was to me. I immediately complained to The Center for Independent Living and I was told to complain to their CAP Advocate. I complained to him and he has yet to help me. I feel discriminated against because of being fat and lesbian. Since October the CAP Advocate has been playing games with me; I went to his supervisor and he too won't call me back or do anything.
I called Rehab, complained, and got a new counselor, a woman. I am supposed to meet up with her tomorrow and I don't know what to expect. That denial of services in Oct. 07 caused me not to be able to start school Jan. 08. Now, I want to start college in the Fall 2008 and this replacement Counselor can do the same and ruin my chances based on my weight, disability and sexual orientation.
I refuse to get down and depressed. I am going to stand up for what I know is right. I've worked all my life being fat, it never affected my work. I excelled at anything I did. Just because I'm in a wheelchair shouldn't matter with non manual labor.
What do you think I should do?
--Worried and Upset
Anyone out there know the law on discrimination or have any practical advice for this reader?