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Woman With Down Syndrome Exposes Institutional Discrimination In Viral Video

A young woman has recently gone viral on the popular video sharing app TikTok after she was filmed exposing several ways in which people with Down Syndrome are institutionally discriminated against.

As Buzzfeed reported, Charlotte Woodward, the Community Outreach Associate at the National Down Syndrome Society, appeared in a video on the organization's official TikTok account to shed some light on the various inequalities people with Down Syndrome face.

“Things about having Down Syndrome that don’t make sense,” Charlotte says at the beginning of the clip.

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She proceeds to highlight four examples of such discrimination, including the fact that individuals with Down Syndrome are paid a sub-minimum wage.

The US Department of Labor states that it is perfectly legal to pay someone below minimum wage, so long as their "productive capacity is impaired by a physical or mental disability."

The next point Charlotte brings up has to do with marriage.

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Specifically, people with Down Syndrome can actually penalized for getting married, as they can be deemed no longer eligible for health care and government benefits.

"As a person with Down Syndrome and a heart transplant who is receiving Medicaid benefits, it is extremely important to have healthcare," Charlotte told Buzzfeed. "However, it can be taken away if a person with Down Syndrome gets married. That's something that I want to do, to get married down the road, but I can't jeopardize my benefits."

Another issue Charlotte brings up has to do with people with Down Syndrome being rejected for organ transplants.

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Although she was able to have a heart transplant at 22 to fix a condition she was born with, Charlotte said she's one of the lucky ones: "Most people with Down Syndrome are denied getting transplants, and I am trying to change that."

In fact, she's previously spoke about this issue in front of the Virginia State Legislature, which then passed an organ transplant discrimination law stating that people with physical and intellectual disabilities cannot be denied a transplant.

One of the last points Charlotte makes has to do with the tragic story of a young man named Ethan Saylor.

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In 2013, Ethan, a 26-year-old man from Maryland with Down Syndrome, died after three sheriff's deputies attempted to forcibly remove him from a movie theater and ending up fracturing his throat cartilage.

"He was, unfortunately, killed by those who were trying to restrain him," Ashley Helsing, the Director of Government Relations at NDSS, told Buzzfeed. "Here at NDSS, we help train police officers on how to interact with people with disabilities so they have a basis of how to do that and prevent these things."

Since it was posted a week ago, Charlotte's video has been viewed over 3 million times and has more than a million likes.

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In the comments, many users have shared that they were surprised to learn about the institutional discrimination people with Down Syndrome face, highlighting the fact that this is an issue that needs greater awareness and attention.

"Thank you so much for raising these points," one person wrote. "I actually had no idea that this was a problem, and this is so problematic."

Another added, "I never realized there were laws preventing you from basic rights."

Ashley said she hopes everyone who watches Charlotte's video feels inspired to help advocate for change.

TikTok | @ndssorg

"These laws don't need to be on the books anymore, and they can be changed," she told Buzzfeed. "If everyone who watched Charlotte's video just sent a quick note from our website to their member of Congress to demand change on these things, they would change."

Check out the NDSS website to see how you can help make a difference.

h/t: Buzzfeed, TikTik | @ndssorg

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