• Jolene Thibedeau Boyd

If you’ve attended one of our training sessions, you have heard us talk about faltruism™. For those who haven’t had the pleasure:

One example of faltruism we sometimes discuss in our sessions is an extravagant event

sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation (TTF): Night to Shine. There are a couple of aspects we highlight in our conversations. First, this is a great example of faltruism at work. That is, the event appears to be a “practice of selfless concern for the well-being of others,” yet when we look a little closer at the promotional materials splashed all over the media when these events take place annually, it quickly becomes clear that the event is also an excellent opportunity for self-promotion and self-congratulation for the professional athlete whose foundation sponsors the events.

Another aspect we solicit input about is the idea of having a segregated prom for people who have disabilities (the TTF refers to individuals who experience disabilities as “people with special needs”; however, we choose not to use the euphemism “special needs”.) During our most recent session at the MN Department of Human Services Age & Disabilities Odyssey Conference on Aug 1, 2019, a session participant shared her perspective on holding “adult prom” for a specific group of people. She talked about a Queer Prom she had attended, such as those organized and hosted by the 20% Theater Company (as a fundraiser for the organization), and shared that these events were incredibly fun and she recommended that we all participate in an adult prom if we ever have the chance!

So what makes an event like Night to Shine different from the event the conference participant talked about--why do we think this event, specifically, is an example of making it weird? It is largely the way that the people who supposedly benefit from this event are portrayed by the media and by Tim Tebow himself. For example, the mission of the TTF is “to bring Faith, Hope and Love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need”--a perspective that suggests that having a disability is synonymous with living in the “darkest hour of need”. Tebow was quoted

in an article written by Ariel Henley as saying “...They’re all crowned as prom kings and queens…we’re finding that communities are starting to treat these people different all year around” (emphasis added). In the end, the motivation for the event is patronizing at best and stigmatizing at worst. In the same article, Dr. Eric Samuels, a psychologist who specializes in working with people with disabilities clarified that “[p]eople who do not have disabilities may believe that people with disabilities are inferior, are dependent upon support, and are less human than they are.” Henley goes on to say, “What he describes—and what Night to Shine perpetuates—is ‘otherness.’ What we’re doing when we say that disabled people need their own social event is effectively pushing them further into the margin” (2018, para. 8).

This example frequently generates lively discussion--debate, even--among our session participants. Our goal is not to judge, but to initiate conversations that matter. So...what do you think? We challenge you to start a conversation about this with your co-workers, friends, family, even strangers!








  • Jolene Thibedeau Boyd

We didn’t want this important date in history to pass by without celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act being signed into law.

First for some context, just in case you’re not familiar with the ADA. The ADA National Network provides these basics on their website:

“The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.”

While legally the ADA “guarantees equal opportunity” in a variety of arenas, it is clear that in practice opportunities for people with disabilities are often far less than equal. For example, take a look at our post about Tony Award winner Ali Stroker that we from last month. According to the Huffington Post, Stroker commented, “This award is for every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, who has a limitation or a challenge, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena — you are.” But how do you suppose kids who have disabilities might have felt when they found out that the event organizers did not figure out a way to make the stage accessible for Stroker, meaning she had to watch the entire show from backstage, after being given a pretense for her needing to be backstage, just so she could accept her award onstage? Stroker was gracious about the situation, but told the New York Times that she “had a dream that maybe there could be a ramp built.” In fact, there WAS a ramp built backstage, so she could watch from the wings, but since there was no ramp to allow access from the seating area to the stage, she reported that “I had a seat in the front, but the way the night worked out, I never got to my seat.”

However the events leading up to the Tony Awards show played out, in the end the situation just got weird. It remains unclear why, if a ramp could be constructed for backstage access, the logistics could not have been worked out to ensure accessibility from the front of the theater.

As we celebrate the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we must also recognize that legislation means nothing if the provisions are not implemented and, more importantly, if we all do not uphold the values behind the legislation. It is a rare piece of legislation that can feasibly cover every possible situation it is intended to address, but people--every one of us--can help collaborate, support, advocate, and demand that the public places we access are accessible to all. Change can happen, and it can happen one person at a time. You can make a commitment to support accessibility and Take the Pledge to #StopMakingItWeird.







Updated: Aug 12, 2019

We are excited to share our official launch of Stop Making It Weird, LLC! And for those who haven’t heard us present, read our published articles, or spoken with us in person, we can probably guess what you’re thinking… “What is Stop Making It Weird?” Or simply, “Stop making what weird?”

Setting up our exhibit table at the 2019 Forum on Workplace Inclusion

The Genesis of Stop Making It Weird

Stop Making It Weird (#StopMakingItWeird) began as a campaign to combat weirdness in attitudes, actions, or beliefs toward people with disabilities. We realized that people may even inadvertently cause harm by virtue of their own weirdness, and often through behaviors that were meant to be supportive. Beliefs may manifest as "excessive celebration" over a person who has a disability completing what would ordinarily be considered a mundane or routine task.That is, the action is "celebrated" because it has been done by someone with a disability, simply because they have a disability.

An example to illustrate this point: Imagine that during a panel presentation at a conference, each presenter introduces the next speaker, with little fanfare. Each presenter stands to share a portion of the presentation and then returns to his or her seat as the audience silently anticipates the next speaker. Then a presenter with a visible disability finishes her portion and prepares to hand-off to the next person. And the audience breaks into wild applause, apparently for no reason other than the fact that she has a disability. Unknowingly, this crowd has just made it weird. They’ve excessively celebrated a woman for doing nothing more than the presenter to her left or the one to her right.

Join the Movement!

We believe there are many ways to stop making it weird by building a culture that treats people as people, regardless of disability status--even at the risk of our own discomfort. We are committed to supporting people, businesses, and teams in their journeys toward true inclusion. But we need your help to #StopMakingItWeird!

How You Can Help to Stop Making It Weird

  • Take the Pledge!

  • Subscribe to get the latest Stop Making It Weird news.

  • Like us on Facebook and invite your friends to do the same!

  • Follow us on Twitter, retweet our posts, and tag us (@stpmkngitwrd) when you come across something weird.

  • Follow us on LinkedIn and mention us on weird discussions.

  • Keep an eye out for the Stop Making It Weird Online Store--coming soon!

  • Connect with us to learn more about our Services and how you can be a part of the solution!

#StopMakingItWeird #Training #Consulting #DiversityAndInclusion #WomenInBusiness

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