Peanut Protest Update

Yes, that's two signs, but it does seem to capture the spirit of the protests!
Here's a quick update for those of you following the news out of Edgewater, Florida, where parents have been protesting the "extreme measures" (i.e. hand washing) being taken to protect a six year old girl with a severe peanut allergy.  Tonight there will be an "Allergy Awareness Meeting" at the elementary school, which I will be attending with others from the Tampa Bay Food Allergy Support Group.

First there's bad news via Tracey Bailey on the Facebook page started to support her and her family during this difficult time.  The school has caved to some of the protesters' demands and are no longer requiring children who have been in other classrooms which are not peanut free to wash their hands upon returning to her daughter's classroom.  This is very disturbing for those of us who rely upon a public school to adhere to our children's 504 and Individual Health Plans to keep them safe.

The good news is that the school is trying to do some public education and is addressing the issue.  The latest I've heard by way of our support group is that there will be a speaker from the local health department, but that neither FAAN nor FAI has been invited.  I do not know if there will be a representative from either organization there anyway.  Hopefully everyone will have the shouting worked out their systems, or at least be hoarse enough to give reasonableness a chance to be heard!

I truly hope that some of these parents who have seen this as a zero sum game, where the needs of another child being met take away from the education of their own, will discover that the effort needed to protect one little girl is minimal, and that their own child benefits tremendously from learning to treat others with compassion and respect.

If you'd like to show your support for the Bailey family and keep up with the news out of Edgewater, you can join the Facebook page, which is now creeping up on 1000 members.  I will also post about the meeting itself in the next few days.  Keep your fingers crossed!


Mel said...

I teach in a Pre-Kindergarten classroom and we have the kids wash their hands when they arrive, when they sneeze, when they cough (depending on the level of cough), before playing with the sensory table, before they eat, after they eat, etc. I have a daughter with food allergies -- her big one is milk. She attends the same preschool (in a different classroom) and they do everything they can to keep her safe. I can't imagine how people can be upset about hand washing. We do it to stop germ and to keep children safe. Thank you for giving us parents who worry every day, all day for the safety of their children a voice. Good luck at the meeting. I wonder if their is a video showing a child having an allergic reaction on Youtube or somewhere else on the web. Maybe that could make it a little more real.

Anonymous said...

This story has left me feeling the same I'm sure as most families who deal with the constant safety monitoring surrounding a family member with severe allergies. I feel for the child and her family and worry about further backlash in general. On a different note, does anyone know where to find nut-free chocolate bunnies?

Mel said...

I make my own. I buy the molds you can get at Michael's for Wilton candies. They are small, bite-size bunnies, but works for us. I melt Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips with a little dairy-free margarine. Then just pour in mold and freeze. So easy.

Libby said...

Got yer peanut free bunny right here!

Lori said...

I think the point everyone is missing on this issue is that it is not a case of "rights" but a case of responsibility. If the protesting parent's are exercising the rights of their children to be free to eat nuts, then they have to assume responsibility for that right ie not endangering the life of another person who cannot help the fact that she has an allergy. So by protesting, they are setting a terrible example to their children by saying "Stand up for your rights and let the responsibility go hang."

Anonymous said...

Lori: I guess from where I sit (and read) folks have not missed any of the major issues that this brings up...........not meant to be argumentative...the topic is obviously not easy for everyone.
Mel: thanks I have been considering making my own this year (most likely will attempt something), just wanted to keep my options open too! :)

Lucie said...

For the bunnies - a little expensive, but there's this:

Jennifer is Always Sick said...

Interested in a speedy update on this one. I'm sorry to learn that they have increased the risks to this little girl by removing hand ashing. What a bizarre thing to do. Yeesh!