I remember being a teenager in the 90’s, the fight to end labels. Being a teen with ADD I was active in that fight. What I have is not who I am and we didn’t want to be tagged with something that would change the rest of our lives. Now in 2019, the younger generation such as my 18 year old daughter, is fighting to have more labels on everything. As you can imagine this makes for some lively discussions in my house.

Admittedly, some labels are good, such as the ones that keep you from getting hurt. “CAUTION: CONTENTS MAY BE HOT” or “CAUTION: FLAMMABLE”. There are so many labels through our history and some still used today that are not good at all. You know the ones, the racial, the slanderous and the hurtful. Others that are deemed acceptable and helpful can be harmful.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights said it has reached a resolution with the University of North Carolina Health Care system over a complaint alleging that a doctor decided that an individual with an intellectual disability would not be a good candidate for a heart transplant because of their disabilities and the fact that the person does not live independently. The complaint, which was brought in September 2018, indicated that the individual would eventually die without the transplant. Under the agreement announced this month, UNC Health Care will amend the patient’s medical records to say that they are eligible to be considered for a spot on the transplant list.

A label almost kept this person from getting what they needed to survive. A label has to be removed to receive treatment to make them healthy. Which leads me to ask, why have so many labels in the first place? It’s easy to look at one tiny part of a person, smack a label on them and move on, but is it helpful? What should matter is the whole person. This person is not an intellectual disability; this person is a patient that needs their doctor to do everything they can to help them survive. Just as students are not ADD or autism, they are students who need their teachers to help them, teach them, and believe in them.