05
Aug
07

Summer Camp Turns Away Boy With HIV

From WNBC.com- July 26, 2007 | WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A summer basketball camp turned away a 10-year-old boy because he has the virus that causes AIDS, according to a lawsuit filed by the boy’s mother. The head of the Deer Mountain Day Camp’s weeklong basketball program initially told the mother her HIV-positive son would be welcome for a 2004 session, according to the lawsuit, filed last month in a federal court in White Plains. Two days before the program started — after the family paid $345 for the program and $250 for clothes and equipment — the camp director told the mother the would not be admitted because he has the virus, the lawsuit said. A lawyer for Deer Mountain, Rodney Gould, said the camp had not discriminated against the boy and “had a long and rich history of catering to children with special medical needs.”

The boy, now 12, was infected before birth, has taken medication for years and is healthy and athletic, his lawyers said. The lawsuit described the risk of his transmitting the virus to other campers or staffers as “infinitesimally small.” Having told many friends about his plans, the boy was devastated by the camp’s decision, his lawyers said. “It was absolute ignorance on the part of the camp,” said one of the boy’s lawyers, Howard Sherwin of the Legal Aid Society in Rockland County. “They had no reason not to admit this child.” The lawsuit, which identifies the boy and his mother as Adam and Jane Doe to protect the boy’s privacy, accuses the camp of violating the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and state human-rights law. It seeks unspecified damages, and the boy’s lawyers said they also wanted the camp to change its policy and apologize to the boy. The American Camp Association, which accredits Deer Mountain, tells camps they cannot discriminate against campers or staff members who have HIV or AIDS. “We believe that the camp experience should be available to all children,” said Adam Weinstein, executive director of the association’s New York section. More than 4,500 children in New York State have HIV, according to the state Health Department.

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