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Allow disabled teen to compete

Justin Kelley is a 17-year-old senior at Lake Wales High School in Polk County. For four years, he’s taken agriculture classes with the hope of being able to show livestock at the Polk County Youth Fair this March.

Kelley bought and raised a piglet named Bacon in preparation for the fair, but was told he wouldn’t be allowed to compete.

According to the youth fair’s board of directors, Kelley is a liability because he suffers from cerebral palsey and is in a wheelchair.

This decision is wrong, mainly because it conflicts with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which states that “Public accommodations must … eliminate unnecessary eligibility standards or rules that deny individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to enjoy the goods and services of public accommodation.”

Kelley’s parents tried to reach a compromise with the board, offering to let their son show his pig separately or even to purchase a liability insurance policy for him.

The fact that Kelley has gone parasailing, been involved in water sports and gone on a boar hunt are evidence he is not a liability at all. Kelley has also volunteered at youth fairs in the past without a problem. He was also able to judge livestock competitions in the past.

Still, the board said it wouldn’t allow him to participate in the competition. Thursday, the board plans to discuss the situation at its meeting.

Before the meeting, the board members should review the nation’s laws about discrimination, and they should easily arrive at the right decision. Kelley has every right to compete, and the board should not deny that right.

If the board members have any sense, Thursday’s meeting will result in a legally sound decision, and Kelley will be allowed to show his pig in the competition.