(COLORADO) — On Tuesday, March 21, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announced the resolution of a federal discrimination complaint by a student athlete with diabetes who was disqualified from participating in an event at a state championship swim meet for his glucose monitor.
16-year-old Ethan Orr was competing as a swimmer for Coronado High School at a state championship meet in 2021 when an official with the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) questioned a piece of two-inch tape covering Orr’s continuous glucose monitor. Orr has Type 1 diabetes, and wears the monitor to keep an eye on his blood sugar.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said CHSAA is the primary governing body for high school athletic activities throughout Colorado. It has 368 member schools across the state, and hosts the state championships for boys’ and girls’ sports. The 2021 state swim meet was covered by CHSAA’s constitution, bylaws, and swimming-specific rules.
Following Orr’s disqualification at the championship meet, his family filed a discrimination complaint against CHSAA under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA requires entities like CHSAA to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, CHSAA has agreed to take several steps to address how it will respond when student athletes with disabilities seek modifications of the rules:
- Clarify in its activity-specific rules that students with disabilities may participate in CHSAA-sponsored activities while using adhesive tape on medical devices if they provide medical documentation.
- Adopt an internal procedure for evaluating requests from students with disabilities for reasonable modifications of CHSAA’s bylaws or the activity-specific rules, with such requests promptly evaluated by CHSAA Assistant Commissioners.
- Amend CHSAA’s bylaws to make clear that a student with a disability, or their coach, can seek an on-the-spot reasonable modification from a referee at games, meets, competitions, or other CHSAA-sponsored activities, and that the referee can grant such a request if it is readily apparent that the medical device is intended to address a disability.
- Make reasonable efforts to notify schools, coaches, students, and referees of these policy changes to CHSAA’s bylaws and activity-specific rules.
- Provide training for CHSAA employees, contractors, agents, and volunteers on the requirements of the ADA.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office clarified that the agreement is not an admission of any violation or liability by CHSAA.