Student with Down syndrome to join cheerleaders on the field

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Outrage erupted on social media after a student with Down syndrome was not allowed on the field with her fellow cheerleaders during a recent football scrimmage.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A cheer-leading controversy has been quieted in Calhoun City Schools.

Outrage erupted on social media after a student with Down syndrome was not allowed on the field with her fellow cheerleaders during a recent football scrimmage.

Grace Key is considered an honorary member of the cheer-leading squad, but her supporters say steps were taken to exclude her when game time came.

Most everyone in downtown Calhoun heard about it, but few wanted to talk about it.

"It's not something I really want to get involved in. It's drama almost, you know?"

Calhoun High School student Grace Key is a special case.

"There's nothing wrong just because she's got Down syndrome. Let her out there,” Carolyn Floyd said.

Key attended practices and was given a uniform, but her friends say during the football team's recent scrimmage, she wasn't allowed on the field to cheer.

From my sweet Cara about her equally sweet sister Grace (below). Please read and share:
I know everyone is hearing a lot about inclusion lately and how important it is to include children who are a little different in more school activities and classes. Here's a perfect example showing why inclusion matters. Most of you know my little sister, Grace. She's sweet and social and she loves being a part of the swim team and cheer team at Calhoun high school. After spending her summer going to practices and learning all the different cheers, someone decided it would be a issue to have Grace on the field cheering with everyone else. Anyone that knows Grace, knows she is completely competent, and for someone to not allow her on the field is ridiculous. She stayed outside the fence separate from everyone else the entire game yesterday wondering why she wasn't allowed to cheer on the field like all of her friends. People with Down syndrome have feelings, and yesterday Grace's feelings were hurt. They didn't care one bit to have Grace in the pictures, so they could get gratification for letting someone with special needs be on the cheer team, but they're getting gratification for not even including her and that is wrong. If you know how Grace was treated was wrong like I do, please speak up to your school officials. There needs to be a change in how they handle their special needs students. A lot of these children can't advocate for themselves, and they need someone to stand up for them. It takes more than one voice to make a difference.  #inclusion #downsyndrome #awareness #acception

Posted by Camille Echols on Friday, August 12, 2016

Video shows the other girls inside the fence and Grace outside.

"Grace is a beautiful child who is so happy and shares that with everybody. I think the whole community will benefit from including her,” long-time resident Sally Poole said.

Poole says she's not surprised by the outrage that erupted on social media, including an online petition signed by more than 5,000 people demanding the school system allow Grace to cheer.

Poole is a retired special education teacher she thinks she knows why there were those who did not want grace to participate.

“I feel that some people may have thought she was taking away from the glory, but I think that would be sharing glory if we give her a chance to be normal with other girls," Poole said.

Calhoun's first home game is this Friday.

Key is expected to be on the sidelines with the rest of the cheerleaders.