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‘He didn’t fit the image.’ Cheer coach didn’t want boy with Down syndrome, family says

Cheerleader with Down Syndrome kicked off squad because ‘he didn’t fit with the squad’s image’

Glenn Wilson, a 17-year-old from West High School in Ohio who has Down Syndrome, was kicked off the cheerleading squad because he "didn't fit with the squad's image," according to his family.
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Glenn Wilson, a 17-year-old from West High School in Ohio who has Down Syndrome, was kicked off the cheerleading squad because he "didn't fit with the squad's image," according to his family.

As 17-year-old Glenn Wilson prepared to be a member of his high school’s cheer squad this fall, his family began to grow nervous.

The teen, who has Down syndrome, had made the team at West High School in Ohio in spring — but cheerleading camp came and went this fall without Wilson receiving his uniform or the practice schedule, grandmother Carolyn Sue Morris told Fox28.

“I got a call, and said he’d made the squad, and said I would be receiving mail,” Morris told Fox28. “But I never got it”

Morris said because she didn’t sign the forms, the coach suggested that Wilson could work as a manager for the team instead of being a cheerleader, according to The Columbus Dispatch. But Wilson, who said he was “so excited” to be on the team, wasn’t interested.

Finally, Ray Valentine, the teen’s uncle, said the cheer coach offered another explanation for why the boy shouldn’t be on the team.

“She said he didn’t fit the image that she wanted for her squad,” he told Fox28. “I said why did you take him off the team, that’s when she said she’s never dealt with special needs children before, and didn’t have experience with special needs, and therefore, she removed him from the team.”

Members of the cheer squad pushed for Wilson to remain on the team once they learned what happened, Morris said, and Valentine went to the Columbus Board of Education on Tuesday to argue his case, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

After the meeting, Columbus City School’s spokesperson Scott Varner said that Wilson will remain on the team, according to Fox28.

Varner said “we’re trying to figure out who made those mistakes and exactly what happened,” as reported by The Columbus Dispatch.

In a follow-up report from Fox28, the family says it is now pushing for the cheer coach to lose her job.

Earlier this month, AnnCatherine Heigl, a 19-year-old cheerleader with Down syndrome, applied to sororities at George Mason University — and wasn’t accepted to any of them, according to CBS.

Her sister wrote on Twitter on that AnnCatherine was “feeling unwanted and devastated” after she was rejected. The university’s sorority system has since apologized, writing in a statement that it wants “to do better in the future.”

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