Disability Advocates Call ‘Glee’ Portrayal ‘Poor Choice’
Fox’s “Glee” is generating controversy after depicting a character with Down syndrome bringing a gun to school.
In an episode which aired Thursday night, gunshots are heard during glee club practice, prompting a lockdown at the high school. Ultimately, viewers learn that Becky Jackson, a student with Down syndrome who is played by actress Lauren Potter, brought a gun to school and the shots were fired accidentally.
Potter’s mother, Robin Sinkhorn, told The Huffington Post that she took no issue with a character with Down syndrome being the one to bring a gun to school.
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“If Becky’s going to be fully included on the show — which they’ve done such a good job about that and giving her these juicy stories — then why not Becky?” Sinkhorn said. “Whether she has Down syndrome or not, it doesn’t matter … Why wouldn’t it be somebody with Down syndrome because she’s a kid. She’s a teenager. She makes stupid decisions just like other teenagers do.”
But not everyone feels the same way. Officials from the National Down Syndrome Society called it a “poor choice” to depict Becky bringing a gun to school.
“Acting like every other teenager in doing things like sports and going to college, those are things great to portray for Becky,” said Julie Cevallos, vice president of marketing for the organization. “Taking a gun to school is something very serious and would likely come with a mental health condition. That’s not appropriate for someone with Down syndrome and not a stigma they need.”
Meanwhile, comments from viewers on Twitter criticized the characterization for being “disgraceful” and “seriously lame.”
“Thank you Glee for setting Down Syndrome awareness and acceptance back light years. Some people now see our kids in an even worse light,” wrote one viewer known as T21ASDMommy on Twitter.
“Glee” creator Ryan Murphy, however, said in a tweet that the episode is the “most powerful emotional Glee ever.”