Colorado Springs teen with diabetes disqualified at state swim meet; CHSAA agrees to improve access

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 6:13 PM MDT|Updated: Mar. 22, 2023 at 5:08 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A Colorado Springs teen was disqualified from a state swim meet in 2021. Nearly two years later, CHSAA has agreed to “take steps to address how it will respond” to similar situations.

The Department of Justice received a complaint from the family of Ethan Orr, who has Type 1 diabetes, after he was disqualified for having adhesive tape that was covering a continuous glucose monitor while competing.

“Minutes before the start of the event, the head referee saw the piece of 2x2-inch adhesive tape covering the student’s continuous glucose monitor and disqualified him from the race,” the U.S. Attorneys Office, District of Colorado, shared in a news release. “Under the ADA and its implementing regulations, entities like CHSAA are required to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability unless the modification would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations.”

The release issued on Tuesday adds CHSAA “agreed to take several steps to address how it will respond when student participants with disabilities who are participating in CHSAA-sponsored activities, or their coaches, seek modifications of the rules for those activities.” The release laid out what CHSAA plans to do differently:

- Clarify in its activity-specific rules that students with disabilities may participate in CHSAA-sponsored activities while using adhesive tape on medical devices if they provide medical documentation;

- Adopt an internal procedure for evaluating requests from students with disabilities for reasonable modifications of CHSAA’s bylaws or the activity-specific rules, with such requests promptly evaluated by CHSAA Assistant Commissioners;

- Amend CHSAA’s bylaws to make clear that a student with a disability, or their coach, can seek an on-the-spot reasonable modification from a referee at games, meets, competitions, or other CHSAA-sponsored activities, and that the referee can grant such a request if it is readily apparent that the medical device is intended to address a disability;

- Make reasonable efforts to notify schools, coaches, students, and referees of these policy changes to CHSAA’s bylaws and activity-specific rules; and

- Provide training for CHSAA employees, contractors, agents, and volunteers on the requirements of the ADA.

Ethan was 16 and attended Coronado High School when he was disqualified, according to a news release from Kishinevsky & Raykin, Attorneys at Law.

“I knew I’d have to fight my disease to swim, but I never imagined I’d have to fight discrimination to swim,” Ethan said, according to the news release from the law firm.