Clovis and Sherron Grant are parents of 2 children, ages 26 & 24 years, one of whom has special needs.
Sherron Grant is an educator and advocate for persons with special needs. She is currently an elementary school Principal with the Toronto District School Board. Sherron graduated from York University with an Honours B.A. , and later returned to school full-time and completed her Bachelor and Master of Education degrees at OISE at the University of Toronto. Clovis is the Chief Executive Officer of 360°kids, an organization serving homeless youth in York Region. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Toronto and Masters in Leadership from University of Guelph.
The Black Parent Support Group (BPSG) they founded in November 2020 is an outgrowth of their combined passion to support and advocate for individuals with exceptional needs. Sherron and Clovis believe that individuals with special needs should be recognized for their valuable contributions to society and that we all benefit when barriers for their engagement are removed. The BPSG, with a growing membership of 130+ members provides a safe space for Black families with a child with special needs, to build connections, problem-solve and to reduce their isolation. The group is free to join and meets monthly, on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month. For more information, contact us at BPSGroup2020@gmail.com or via Facebook @ BPSG: Black Parents of Children and Adults with a Disability Support Group.
“Is the law helpful? We are in an age where accessibility legislation promises greater accessibility and equality for people with disabilities. In what ways if any have you found the law to be helpful in breaking down barriers for people with disabilities who have intersectional identities?”
Mrs. Sherron Grant & Mr. Clovis Grant: From a Black parent’s perspective, Disability laws are helpful in the following ways for all people with disabilities:
- Promoting awareness of the values, skills and contributions people with disabilities make to society
- Eliminating barriers to employment helps increase the level of independence and self-worth of people with a disability
- Eliminating employment barriers also helps create pathways out of poverty for people with a disability
Much of the law focuses on physical disabilities without full recognition or broad transferability to those with a hidden disability. For those individuals with hidden disabilities, such as autism, where their needs are not as evident, there is skepticism when trying to access supports that may be helpful. For example, there may be times when a disabled parking spot can be very helpful for families dealing with a child with autism who have severe behaviours.
For racialized individuals with a hidden disability, especially a black male, there may be additional barriers they face. Since there is no immediate evidence of a disability, they may be just as much at risk at the hands of law enforcement who may be overzealous in their expectation for compliance to someone who may not respond to them in an acceptable way. Does law enforcement personnel get training for how they would recognize that an individual has a hidden disability and not mistake behaviours for insolence or of being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol?
Such a scenario was played out on the Netflix series, “Atypical” where the non-compliance of a ‘White’ teenage boy who had autism, was handled harshly by a police officer. What would have been the result if the youth was black and similarly running from the police? It could have been fatal.