Let’s celebrate “Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week,” which continues through Sunday, by supporting the creation of a Restroom Access Act, pioneered in Illinois and called Ally’s Law, in every state. All of us with inflammatory bowel diseases — IBD — have probably experienced scoping out a likely nearby haven should an unexpected IBD episode occur.
Recently, it happened to me, and I chose to go to a nearby Starbucks. Long story short, I was not granted access to a restroom there until I had pleaded my case to the manager in front of all present and displayed my “I Can’t Wait” Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation card. Only then was I allowed access. None too soon, I should add.
SEND LETTERS TO: [email protected]. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes. Letters should be 350 words or less.
So far, 17 states have enacted Ally’s Law, which requires retail establishments to allow people with certain medical conditions, such as IBD, to access an employee restroom if no public facilities are available. The bill became law in Illinois in 2005.
We hope for your support in successfully lobbying the other 33 states to establish their own Ally’s Laws.
Based on my experience at that Starbucks store, I have devised a strategy to mitigate my suffering and humiliation in these situations. I display my Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation “I can’t wait” restroom card — and a show that I am making a live video recording with my cell phone. In this way, all the “he said she said” doubt is eliminated and, hopefully, employees in the establishment will quickly comply with Ally’s Law.
If you live outside Illinois and your state does not have an Ally’s Law equivalent, please contact your elected representatives.
Elita Schallman, Lincolnshire
The study of “what it means to be human”
I agree with Gabrielle Lyon, executive director of Illinois Humanities, who argued in a recent letter to the Sun-Times about the importance of reviving the humanities in our schools and society. As President Lyndon Johnson said in 1965, commenting on the creation of the National Endowment for the Arts, too often in our culture science is given the penthouse while the humanities are relegated to the basement.
As a group of academic areas of study that includes language, literature, history and philosophy, the humanities allow us to explore what it is to be human, to experience empathy and to engage together in our global society. Never has the need for this exploration been more needed.
For a more complete and persuasive argument in favor of a greater emphasis on the humanities, may I suggest you listen to or read an Aug. 7, 2018, presentation by Mona Frederick, director of the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities at Vanderbilt University, on August 7, 2018. The full text of her address — “What are the Humanities and Why Are They Important?” — is online and you can watch it on YouTube.
Tom Shannon, Lincoln Park