Two recent YouTube videos advocating for civil treatment of and nondiscrimination against people with Down syndrome have become popular on the Internet, following controversial remarks by a well-known atheist who called it an immoral choice to knowingly give birth to a child with the condition.
On Oct. 1, some James Clemens High School students posted a video urging equality for people with Down syndrome, a condition among people who have a full or partial copy of chromosome 21.
“We’re all so different, but we are all the same in the end. I have 46 chromosomes. I have 47 chromosomes. One chromosome does not define a person. You define you. That makes me, me,” a group of student peers, with and without Down syndrome, said in their video as quoted by WAFF.
There are over 400,000 people with Down syndrome in the United States, the National Down Syndrome Society reported. Individuals with Down syndrome are found in all socio-economic classes, in all age brackets, in all ethnicities and in both genders.
The videos show that despite the commonalities Down syndrome individuals have with their peers, they are still treated unfairly. Children are bullied, adults are denied jobs and others are refused local services.
Child rapper Matty B also made a music video advocating for fair treatment of people with Down syndrome on Sept. 2, which has gone viral with more than six million views. The main star of the viral YouTube video was Matty B’s sister, Sarah Grace, who is a Down syndrome youth.
Matty B was quoted by WCVB saying that he hopes those with Down syndrome can learn that nothing is impossible and that they can do anything even if they have special needs. “Some people at school might pick on her (Sarah) for her needs, but I don’t think anybody should be bullied because of what they have,” Matty B said.
Matty B pointed out Down syndrome individuals are just like everyone else, and should be given an equal chance at their life opportunities.
The videos come in the wake of controversial comments made by Richard Dawkins, an outspoken atheist, that incensed advocates for those with Down syndrome.
He first tweeted that it would be immoral for someone to knowingly bring a child into the world with Down syndrome, according to The Guardian. His apology the next day didn’t exactly calm things down, either.
“The decision to deliberately give birth to a Down baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare,” Dawkins wrote.
In response to the statement, David Tolleson, executive director of the National Down Syndrome Congress, said, “We firmly believe and advocate that ‘We’re More Alike Than Different,’ and statements like Richard Dawkins’ promote division instead of unity.”
Tolleson continued, “People with Down syndrome should not be treated like second-class citizens, and anyone making that argument sets back the great progress that has been made in terms of equality for all people.”
Michelle Sie Whitten, executive director of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, wrote: “It is clear that in addition to advocacy, it is our responsibility to educate our government, our professionals and our society, including those in the Down syndrome community. And we must do so in an evidence-based, accurate, and professional manner. Only through advocacy and education will we be able to truly ensure human and civil rights for individuals with Down syndrome in this country and beyond.”