CONTACT: Lena Parsons, for Access Living

Youth Advocates demand accountability for celebrity bias against disability

Timotheus Gordon speaking at a Chicago Public Schools protest in August 2015
As representatives of the disability community, Advance Youth Leadership Power (AYLP) is disgusted with the ignorance, bias and violence toward people with disabilities displayed by celebrities like Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Donald Trump, and Dana Stubblefield.

While traveling through the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport, 50 Cent began filming a custodian who is autistic. 50 Cent asked his name. After the worker does not respond verbally, 50 Cent speculated that the worker was under the influence of drugs.
At a campaign event, Presidential Candidate Donald Trump made fun of a journalist with a disability. "Now the poor guy, you gotta see this guy," the candidate said. According to news reports, Trump then launched into what appeared to be an impression of the journalist, ‘waving his arms around with his hands at an odd angle.’

Discriminatory and objectifying statements and actions by celebrities will only perpetuate existing stigma toward people with disabilities. The ignorance displayed by celebrities regarding disability is reflective of national trends, which show that people with disabilities are more likely to be victims of abuse. According to U.S. statistics, people with disabilities are four to ten times more likely to experience violence, or become victims of a crime, than people without a disability. Women with disabilities are twice as likely to encounter sexual assault. According to the National Survey of Abuse of People with Disabilities, 34% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are victims of sexual abuse. Dana Stubblefield, a former professional football player, was accused of sexual assault against a woman with a psychiatric disability.

“Celebrities and prominent people in the community need to be more proactive on disability awareness and acceptance,” said Timotheus Gordon, an advocate with AYLP. “We all need to start building an inclusive society where people with disabilities do not feel criminalized and stigmatized, but rather valued and dignified. We do not want to continue feeling like we are not a part of society. Instances like those does not only happen in the public space, but also in our everyday lives.”

Advance Youth Leadership Power is Access Living’s Youth Community Organizing Group. The group organizes around issues that impact young people with disabilities, such as education, housing, employment, transportation, and law enforcement.

As a disabled youth activist organization, Advance Youth Leadership Power demands equality and justice for all disabled people.


Established in 1980, Access Living is a change agent committed to fostering an inclusive society that enables Chicagoans with disabilities to live fully–engaged and self–directed lives. Nationally recognized as a leading force in the disability advocacy community, Access Living challenges stereotypes, protects civil rights and champions social reform.