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From Rindge, New Hampshire, USA:

My 12 year old daughter, who has type 1 diabetes, takes dance lessons and recently had a recital. During the dress rehearsal, I had a big debate with the director of the studio who wanted to take her "pack" (meter, strips, etc. -- no needles or insulin) away from her during rehearsal and the recital because she was afraid one of the other kids would get into it. I adamantly refused to let her take it, because she needs to be able to test her sugar whenever she needs to, and should not be wasting time looking for the person who has her pack.

My daughter is very responsible and manages her blood glucose on her own at school, going to the nurse only for insulin if it is high. It came down to me threatening to pull her out of the recital and take legal action for her to allow her to carry it with her. What are my daughter's rights? I want to gather as much information as I can so I can better protect her rights in the future.


I don't know about the "legal rights" for a diabetic during a private enterprise like dance lessons and recitals. The legal precedent in public schools at least has the Americans with Disabilities Act behind it as public schools receive Federal monies.

This seems to be a matter of the dance instructor not being educated in the realm of diabetes and the "fear" of liability should some other child get stuck by a needle or something. A calm frank discussion is in order. It may help to point out that other competitive athletes are able to have their diabetes supplies at close hand and include several pro football and baseball players, Gary Hall (Olympic swimmer), tennis players, etc. Compromise on a way to have your daughter have a "safe and secure" designated spot for her supplies. I don't think a locked locker is the answer because if she had a severe hypoglycemia spell, no one could get into it. Your daughter's diabetes team may also wish to be your advocate and discuss matters with the dance director.


Additional comments from Dr. Tessa Lebinger:

I'm not sure about the legal rights, but I would strongly suggest you try to work out something with the dance studio. I agree with you entirely, your daughter needs to have access to her meter and shouldn't have to waste time looking for it. On the other hand, I'm very concerned about other curious children getting into meter packs containing used lancets. I'm waiting to hear the first lawsuit about a curious child who plays with a meter in school and sticks himself with a used lancet and sues the school (or dance studio) for not keeping infectious "needles" (lancets fall in the same class as traditional needles) out of the reach of other children.

Perhaps you could work out an arrangement to lock the meter, strips, and lancets in another bag and let your daughter keep the locked bag containing the meter with her or stored in a convenient place, out of the way of the other children, where your daughter would have free access at any time. There are many nice, small bags that come with either simple three number combination locks or key locks, or you can buy an inexpensive luggage combination lock to put on a sports bag containing the meter. I would recommend a three-number combination lock over a key lock so you don't have to worry about the key being lost. I would make sure a responsible adult at the studio knows the combination in case she forgets it or can't open the combination if she is confused with a low blood sugar.

Even if your daughter is extremely responsible, other children may not be so responsible. You are obligated (probably legally) to take reasonable precautions to protect other children from coming in contact with your daughter's used lancets, even if they do so without permission.


Additional comments from David S. Holtzman, Esq.:

The legal rights and responsibilities of individuals vary from situation to situation, and State to State. The scenario you lay out is extremely complicated and there is not enough information to adequately determine what your options and obligations are.

I encourage you to consult an attorney licensed to the practice of law in New Hampshire to learn precisely where you and your daughter stand. As an alternative, I am told that the American Diabetes Association provides some assistance on legal issues for people with diabetes. You can reach them by dialing (800) DIABETES.


Original posting 6 Jun 2002
Posted to Other Social Issues


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:34
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