The following position was adopted by the NEA Board of Directors on
October 7, 1994:
That NEA continue to support efforts to foster an improved teaching and
learning environment for colleagues and students who have special needs
due to physical size; further, that NEA review its existing policies and
recommend policy revisions in this regard, as appropriate.
The attached report was prepared for the NEA Executive Committee's
consideration by NEA Human and Civil Rights pursuant to the following
motion adopted by the NEA Board of Directors at its meeting of December
That the appropriate committee undertake a study on discrimination due to
physical size and issue a report with recommendations; that the report be
general with particular attention to student-student, school employee-
student, and school employee-school employee interactions as they relate
This report focuses on size discrimination based on overweight for two
reasons. First, the maker of the motion expressed a particular concern
about insensitivity toward such people. The obese, especially obese
women, are highly stigmatized in all sectors of American society. Second,
discrimination against the obese can be a prototype for size
discrimination against others who differ substantially from the average,
such as the extremely thin, short, or tall. The socioeconomic penalties
for obesity far exceed those for underweight (Averett 1994), short
(Gortmaker et al. 1993), and tall (Samaras 1994).
Discrimination based on size currently is addressed in NEA resolutions F-
1, Nondiscriminatory Personnel Policies/Affirmative Action; I-11, Civil
Rights; I-41, Use of Prejudicial Terms and Symbols; and I-42, Hate-
The report begins with a discussion of the American obsession with
thinness and its condemnation of the fat and then focuses on antifat
discrimination in education by school level. The report also reviews
federal and state antidiscrimination laws and some intervention,
prevention, and advocacy programs. The information contained in the
report was compiled from database searches, consultations with experts
and representatives of advocacy organizations, requests to selected state
Associations, and responses to an NEA Online request.
The education sector has not discriminated against obese employees to the
extent that the private sector has. Two education cases were found. Yet
fat education employees are subject to socially acceptable yet outrageous
insensitivity and rudeness. For fat students, the school experience is
one of ongoing prejudice, unnoticed discrimination, and almost constant
harassment. From nursery school through college, fat students experience
ostracism, discouragement, and sometimes violence. Often ridiculed by
their peers and discouraged by even well-meaning education employees, fat
students develop low self-esteem and have limited horizons. They are
deprived of places on honor rolls, sports teams, and cheerleading squads
and are denied letters of recommendation.
This situation can be changed by education employees who are sensitive to
America's obsession with the thin and intolerance toward the fat. They
can foster a better learning and growing environment for students with
unique needs due to size. They can also support contract language
designed to protect their colleagues from size discrimination.
REPORT ON SIZE DISCRIMINATION
ANALYSIS OF SOCIETAL ATTITUDES AND LAW IN REGARD TO OVERWEIGHT PERSONS
Research shows that American society adores the slim and deplores the
fat. Despite evidence that obesity owes more to genetics than to will
power, Americans tend to intimidate fat people into excessive and
ineffective dieting, blame fat people for their condition, and make it
hard for fat people to succeed on the job and in school.
Most mainstream Americans consider the lean body enviable. Revering
slimness to the point of obsession, we endow the slim with attributes of
beauty, femininity or masculinity, sexuality, health, friendliness,
skillfulness, employability, kindness, goodness, marriageability, and
wealth. But 27.5 percent of American adults are overweight, according to
the U. S. Department of Commerce (1993). An even greater percentage diet.
In numbers, between 60 million and 80 million Americans are on diets to
lose weight at any given time (Brody 1992). (See Appendix A for
statistics about overweight and dieting by ethnic group.)
The statistics about overweight and dieting seem ironic, given the
demographic diversity of the country. The United States contains people
from many cultures, and many of the people who diet may have different
beliefs about weight (Ikeda 1992). Some Americans represent cultures in
which having a fat wife and children proves that a man is a good
provider. Others represent cultures in which overweight protects children
against famine and disease. And others have an ideal body image that is
fatter than the one valued in the mainstream.
Nonetheless, America condemns the fat and blames them for their
condition. Americans tend to see in fat people the loss of control that
they fear in themselves (Angier 1992). Americans also associate fat
people with a wide variety of negative characteristics. Studies published
over a 20-year period demonstrate that Americans see fat people as
"unattractive . . . aesthetically displeasing . . . morally and
emotionally impaired . . . alienated from their sexuality . . . and
discontent with themselves" (Crandall 1994)
According to researchers, this negativity has a controlling influence on
modern American society that results in discrimination against fat
people. Studies showing how acceptable it is to deride fat people
publicly have led University of Kansas psychologist Christian Crandall to
consider the phenomenon as symbolic antifatism. Applying the concept of
symbolic racism (a blend of anti-Black prejudice and traditional American
moral values), he reasons that Americans dislike fat and then blame fat
people for their condition on the grounds that they are not helping
themselves or pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. Other
psychologists have concluded that "The social stigma against obesity is
extraordinary in its magnitude and pervasiveness" (Garner 1991).
This stigma has made it hard for fat people to succeed on the job,
especially in such jobs as flight attendant, fire fighter, clerk-typist,
nurse's aide, physician, and educator. In many cases, it has lowered
their self-confidence, forced them to conceal their weight, and channeled
them into low-paying jobs (such as telephone sales) in which weight isn't
a factor (Rothblum 1989). In other cases, it has led to weight-focused
job interviews, forced resignations, denials of promotions and insurance
coverage, and exclusion from office social functions. It has also led to
lower incomes ($6,700 a year less) and higher rates of poverty (10
percent higher) among obese women than among their nonobese peers
(Gortmaker 1993). And it has negatively affected the wage increases of
the obese: when they increase, they increase less rapidly than the wages
of the nonobese (Averett 1994).
The stigma also makes it hard for fat people to succeed in school, as
students and employees.
DISCRIMINATION AGAINST FAT PEOPLE IN EDUCATION
Little information exists about antifat discrimination in schools. That
provided below was compiled from database searches, consultations with
experts and advocacy organizations, requests to selected state
Associations, and a few responses to an NEA Online request for anecdotal
material from members.
Student-Student Interactions by School Level
As early as nursery school, children run up against the American
obsession with weight in their relations with each other. Studies by
University of Vermont psychologist Esther Rothblum reveal that even very
young children rate drawings of fat children more negatively than
drawings of children with physical disabilities (Rothblum 1993). One such
study shows that after nursery-schoolers viewed drawings of Black and
white children in wheelchairs, on crutches, without arms or legs, and as
facially disfigured or obese, they said they liked the amputee and obese
figures least. Rothblum's other findings show that children prefer thin
rather than fat rag dolls, and that even fat children prefer thin dolls
At the elementary level, children learn that it is acceptable to dislike
and deride fatness. Studies show that fat children are less likely than
others to receive best-friend ratings from their classmates (Rothblum
1992). By the second grade, says Michael P. Levine, psychologist and
author of an NEA publication on adolescent eating disorders (1987),
children are using negative words to describe the silhouette of a fat
child: dirty, lazy, sloppy, ugly, and stupid. By the fourth grade, says
an article in the Wall Street Journal, children are already saying: "Fat
girls aren't like regular girls," and "They aren't attractive" (Rothblum
1992). Yearning to be thin, one little girl counts calories, a second
drinks Diet Coke, and a third jogs "to get blubber off my legs."
At the secondary school level, social pressures combine with negative
attitudes about fatness. For fat students, the high school experience is
miserable. A New York Times article on overweight begins this way:
"Aleta Walker never had any friends during her childhood and adolescence
in Hannibal, Mo. Instead, she was ridiculed and bullied every day. When
she walked down the halls at school, boys would flatten themselves
against the lockers and cry, 'Wide load!' But the worst was lunchtime,
"'Every day there was this production of watching me eat lunch.' Ms.
Walker said. She tried to avoid going to the school cafeteria. 'I would
hide out in the bathroom. I would hide out behind the gym by the baseball
diamond. I would hide in the library.'
"One day, schoolmates started throwing food at her as she sat at a table
at lunch. Plates of spaghetti splashed onto her face, and the long greasy
strands dripped onto her clothes. 'Everyone was laughing and pointing.
They were making pig noises. I just sat there,' she said." (Kolata 1992)
That such outrageous behavior is widespread is indicated by a survey
conducted in 1987 by the Sacramento-based National Association to Advance
Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) (Rothblum 1989). Half of the 445 male and female
respondents in this membership survey said they bore the brunt of antifat
jokes and received negative nicknames in junior and senior high school.
Between one-fourth and one-fifth of the male respondents said that in
junior and senior high they were threatened with violence or were
physically assaulted because of their weight. Some respondents reported--
". . . being left out of parties and dances, being ridiculed in gym
class, not being chosen for school sports, being left off the honor roll,
feeling isolated, having food thrown at them, being told to sit in the
back of the class, and not fitting on the small school chairs."
As a result, academic achievement suffers. Studies, dating to the 1960s,
show the effect of this cruel behavior on the academic life of fat
students, especially fat girls. A 1967 study shows negative effects of
obesity on high school performance (Canning 1967). A 1966 study shows
that obese students, especially obese girls, are less likely than the
nonobese to be accepted by the more competitive colleges (Canning 1966).
This is true even if the girls' grades, standardized test scores, and
other variables are the same as for other boys and girls. Another study
shows that obese girls have fewer dates and participate in fewer school
activities than their thin classmates do (Bullin 1963).
At the college level, fat students continue to bear the brunt of the
national dislike of fatness. Crandall's (1994) studies show that fat
people are less likely to attend college even though they score high on
standardized tests and are academically motivated and that fat women are
more likely than other men or women to pay their way through college. He
attributes this to parents who can afford to pay college costs but refuse
to because of an antifat prejudice and insistence on self-reliance and
self-control. Rothblum (1990) shows that fat students are more likely to
be refused letters of recommendation from faculty.
Further evidence of prejudice against obese college students is shown in
studies, in which college students--
> Rated the resumes of obese women job applicants more negatively than
others, especially on supervisory potential (Rothblum 1990).
> Rated fat people last as marriage partners after embezzlers, cocaine
users, shoplifters, and blind people (Tiggemann 1988).
> Rated obese female telephone partners more negatively on social skills
and physical attractiveness than did the telephone partners of nonobese
women (Miller 1990).
> Rated obese men and women as "significantly less competent, less
productive, not industrious, disorganized, indecisive, inactive, less
successful, less conscientious, less likely to take the initiative, less
aggressive, less likely to persevere at work, less ambitious, more
mentally lazy and less self-disciplined than were underweight or average-
weight persons" (Larkin 1979).
Finally, the report of the NAAFA survey shows that about 20 percent of
the male but 26 percent of the female respondents experienced antifat
tricks and jokes in college, 14 percent of the male but 21 percent of the
female respondents received negative nicknames, and over 8 percent of the
male but 3 percent of the female respondents received threats of violence
or were assaulted because of their weight (Rothblum 1989).
Employee-Student Interactions by School Level
The literature on size discrimination yields very little information on
employee-student interactions. None was found about such interactions in
the elementary school.
At the early childhood level, according to one report, teachers may
notice fat children's frustrations with physical activity (Javernick
1988). Although they don't discriminate, teachers fail to respond
appropriately to fat children--such as those who plead fatigue or ask to
remain inside during recess--and fail to encourage vigorous physical
activity on the playground. Early childhood teachers are said to pursue
the traditional practice of letting children play at any physical
activity they like and of overemphasizing the children's fine motor,
cognitive, and social development.
At the secondary school level, information about employee-student
interactions pertains to physical education, classroom furniture,
evaluations of writing, psychological expectations, and general
sensitivity. Some researchers find that physical education teachers
consider fat children less skillful in athletics and assume they are too
embarrassed to wear gym suits--attitudes that reinforce fat children's
low self-esteem and increase their sense of failure (Peck 1988). An NEA
member sympathizes with fat teens who are uncomfortable in showers and
don't want other students to stare at or ridicule them. That same member
sympathizes with a fat girl who was "knocked off" a cheerleading squad
for not being the "right type." Another member tells of a high school
drill team that for ten years excluded fat (but not skinny) girls from
the team and let fat girls who were progressing toward goal weight to
practice at school but not participate in public (Williams 1994).
Antifat attitudes by secondary school professionals are analyzed in two
doctoral dissertations. One looks at the reactions of about 200 pre- and
in-service teachers to photographs of obese and normal-weight children
(Schroer 1985). Both groups consistently perceived obese children in the
photos more negatively than the normal-weight children in terms of
attractiveness, energy level, leadership ability, self-esteem, and the
ability to be socially outgoing. The second dissertation looks at the
reactions of about 600 English teachers, school nurses, psychologists,
and counselors who graded student essays and rated the authors for
likelihood of scholarships and for risk of experiencing personal problems
(Quinn 1987). With the essays accompanied by the authors' photographs and
weight levels (110 pounds, 160 pounds, and 210 pounds), the professionals
gave the normal-weight girl the highest rating for scholarships and gave
the obese girl the most negative ratings on risk for personal problems
and psychological referrals.
Secondary school and college level sensitivity issues appear in the NAAFA
survey. Some of the respondents mentioned teachers who told parents of
fat students to put their children on diets, offered prizes to fat
students for losing weight, kept fat students off the honor roll, and
refused to write letters of recommendation for fat students (Rothblum
1989). One respondent described a painful memory:
"While attending a lecture in college, a professor stopped speaking in
the middle of a sentence and said, 'When are you going to lose weight?
You are really fat.' There were over 100 people in the class!" (Rothblum
Employee-Employee Interactions in Selected States
A line from a speech by a member from Maryland shows the nature of some
"I have had a guidance counselor in this system tell me that he would
rather be dead than look like me. I have wondered how he related to fat
teenagers" (Williams 1992).
Other information about these interactions is limited. Based on the
recommendation of NEA Legal Services, phone calls were made to selected
state Associations. In response, legal staff in California, Florida,
Illinois, and Oregon reported no activity in this area. But NEA-New York
reported on its handling of a 1983 case involving an obese member, and a
Kentucky Education Association UniServ director responded to an NEA
Online request by reporting her ongoing assistance to an obese member.
The General Counsel of the Michigan Education Association (MEA) found no
cases involving members and size discrimination, but he did share 15
samples of MEA labor agreement clauses that address this issue.
> New York. In a 1983 case, a high school math teacher was ordered by
the school superintendent to see a dentist and a doctor to correct his
crooked teeth and to lose weight to improve his appearance. The
superintendent informed the teacher that he would be cited for
insubordination for failure to comply with the directive. In a grievance
proceeding, the state Commissioner of Education found that the
superintendent lacked authority to order the teacher to rectify medical
conditions which are not "so severe as to affect his competence to
perform his teaching duties." (In re Peter Mermer, 22 Ed. Dep. Rep. 575,
May 11, 1983)
> Kentucky. In a 1990 case that remains confidential, an obese
teacher was treated insensitively by the school district for several
years. During that time, the teacher had a number of serious illnesses,
some of which were related to her obesity. The illnesses included a six-
week period of bleeding following a gastroplasty (stomach stapling)
performed to enable the teacher to lose weight (she lost over 170
pounds); and thyroid, gall bladder, kidney, and respiratory problems.
During the teacher's ordeal, the school district displayed a consistent
lack of compassion. While she was on approved sick leave, she was told
she was expected to attend meetings. Her absences from work were
characterized as neglect of duty, and she was told to improve her
attendance or take disability leave or a leave of absence. When she tried
to return to work, but had to leave exhausted after two days, the
district accused her of placing her students in a hardship position and
threatened not to pay her for the two days of work. The UniServ director
has urged the district to make "reasonable accommodations" as required by
federal law under the Rehabilitation and Americans with Disabilities Acts
and has contacted the Human Rights Commission. The teacher is currently
on disability retirement.
> Michigan. Based on the state's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of
1974, 15 Michigan Education Association faculty, teacher, and support
personnel locals have negotiated contracts that include weight as a
protected classification. (See Appendix B for sample contract language.)
FEDERAL AND STATE LAW PROHIBITING DISCRIMINATION BASED ON WEIGHT
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e-2) declares
that all Americans have a right to employment free from discrimination
based on race, color, sex, religion, and national origin. Even though
weight is not included in the list of protected classifications,
employers violate Title VII when they apply weight requirements in a
discriminatory manner. Successful suits have been brought under Title VII
by flight attendants for discriminatory application of weight
requirements by airline companies.
Generally, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 701 et seq.)
protects the rights of persons with disabilities in programs, facilities,
or employment that receive federal funds. The Americans with Disabilities
Act (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.) extends those protections to the private
sector. In the employment area, both statutes prohibit discrimination
against an otherwise qualified individual with a disability solely on the
basis of the disability. The statutes define "persons with disabilities"
as including those who are regarded or perceived as having a disability.
In a recent court decision, obesity caused by metabolic dysfunction was
found to be a disability under the Rehabilitation Act. In Cook v. Rhode
Island, a "morbidly obese" plaintiff was denied reemployment at a state
home for the retarded because the state claimed her obesity compromised
her ability to evacuate patients in case of emergency. The state also
claimed she was at a greater risk of developing ailments that would
increase the likelihood of workers' compensation claims and absenteeism.
The First Circuit Court of Appeals found that concern over absenteeism
and increased costs is not a valid basis for denying employment. The
court upheld a jury finding that the state denied Ms. Cook employment
solely on the basis of her obesity, rather than on her ability to do the
job, and it upheld a damage award of $100,000. [Cook v. Rhode Island, 10
F.3d 17 (1st Cir. 1993)]
Through legislative enactments or court decisions, several states have
moved to outlaw discrimination based on size. Michigan appears to be the
only state with a statute specifically including "weight" as a protected
classification in the same way sex, religion, race, and national origin
are protected. The District of Columbia prohibits discrimination based on
"personal appearance," which refers to "bodily condition or
characteristics." (See Appendix C for the texts of these laws.)
State courts in New York [State Division of Human Rights v. Xerox Corp.,
480 N.E.2d 695 (NY 1985)] and New Jersey [Gimello v. Agency Rent-a-Car
Systems, Inc., 594 A.2d 264 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1991)] have found
that obesity is within the definition of disability or handicap under
state human rights laws. In Oregon, obesity may be considered a handicap
under the state's fair employment practices act if the obesity
substantially limits one or more of the person's major life activities,
such as caring for oneself, working, walking, etc. [Oregon Correctional
Institution v. Bureau of Labor and Industries, 780 P.2d 743 (Or. App.
1989)]. In California, the state Supreme Court found that obesity could
be the basis of a violation of the state's fair employment law if there
is physiological systemic basis for the condition. [Cassista v.
Community. Foods, Inc., 856 P.2d 1143 (Cal. 1993)]. Note, for example,
that obesity caused by a thyroid condition could be a handicap. [Hegwer
v. Board of Civil Service Commissioners, 5 Cal. App. 4th 1011, 58 Fair
Emp. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 1671 (1992)]
Intervention, Prevention, and Advocacy
Intervention and prevention programs and the work of advocacy
organizations are of great help to fat children, teens, and adults in
need of coping and assertiveness skills.
The most comprehensive intervention and prevention programs focus on size
diversity, bias reduction, healthy eating habits, and physical activity.
They are based on research showing that people who are overweight or who
have eating disorders can learn new ways of defining their self-worth and
that overweight dieters can be harmed more than they are helped by
drastic or repeated regimens of caloric restriction--which fail to
maintain weight loss anyway (Garner 1991). One program teaches children
to trust their natural hunger and satiety signals and participate in
exercise (Ikeda 1992, Peck 1988). One that helps children and adults
counter the stigma of obesity uses a sociological model involving
recognition, readiness, reaction, and repair (Sobal 1991). (See Appendix
D for descriptions of three models: California Ad Hoc Interdisciplinary
Committee on Children and Weight, Ellyn Satter Associates, Sobol-Cornell
Fat advocacy organizations work to counter myths about fatness in
America, reduce or eliminate size discrimination, and encourage other
organizations to do likewise. The National Organization for Women (NOW)
has a resolution opposing size discrimination. [See Appendix E for
information about four advocacy groups: Association for the Health
Enrichment of Large People (AHELP), Council on Size and Weight
Discrimination, National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA),
and National Organization for Women (NOW).]
APPENDIX A: STATISTICS ON OVERWEIGHT AND DIETING
That far more Americans diet than are overweight is indicated by the
following statistics about Black, Hispanic, and white adults, ages 18 and
above (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services 1993).
% Overweight % Dieting
The following and more limited data are available about overweight
American Indian/Alaska Native adults, ages 18 and above (Broussard 1991),
and selected Asian and Pacific Islander groups, ages 20 and above (Crews
% Overweight Men Women
Am. Ind/Alaska Native 33.7 40.3
American Samoan 46.0 66.0
Native Hawaiian 66.0 63.0
Japanese American 38.0 18.0
Filipino American 42.0 26.0
Chinese American 27.0 13.0
Other Asian American 27.0 15.0
Because there is no definition of obesity in children, the literature
does not contain reliable information on overweight among them. [The
National Center for Health Statistics expects such data--from the latest
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III)--to be
published by the fall 1994.]
APPENDIX B: SAMPLE CONTRACT LANGUAGE (MICHIGAN)
Michigan Center Food Service Personnel and Paraprofessionals 1991-93 3-AB
Article III, Association Rights, Section A, Rights
To the extent prohibited by law, the Employer and the Association agree
that, for the duration of this Agreement, neither shall discriminate
against any employee or applicant for employment because of his/her
religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, marital
status, handicap or political belief, nor shall the Employer, nor the
Association, its agents or members, to the extent prohibited by law,
discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of
his/her membership or non-membership in the Association.
Concord Custodians, Food Service Personnel, Maintenance, Office
Personnel, and Paraprofessionals 1991-94 3-AB
Article III, Nondiscrimination
To the extent prohibited by law, the Employer and the Union agree that,
for the duration of this Agreement, neither shall discriminate against
any employee or applicant for employment because of his or her religion,
race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, marital status,
handicap or political belief, nor shall the Employer, nor the Union, its
agents or members, to the extent prohibited by law, discriminate against
any employee or applicant for employment because of his or her membership
or non-membership in the Union.
Plymouth-Canton Paraprofessionals 1990-93 2-A
Article IV, Non-Discrimination
The provisions of this Agreement apply to all employees covered by this
Agreement regardless of their religion, race, color, national origin,
age, sex, height, weight or marital status.
Plymouth-Canton Education Association 1990-93 2-A
Article IC, Fair Practice
The Board and the Association agree to continue their policy of not
discriminating against any employee on the basis of religion, race,
color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, handicap, marital
status, membership or participation in, or association with the
activities of the Association, in accordance with the law.
Van Buren Intermediate Education Association 1990-93 5-D
Article VI, Professional Staff Members Rights, A. Equal Applications
It is agreed by the Board and the Association that neither shall
discriminate against any Professional Staff Member because of race,
color, creed, sex, nationality, age, political belief, height, weight or
qualified handicap or exercising those protected rights as defined by law
as an Association member, officer or authorized representative of said
Association, nor shall they discriminate against any Professional Staff
Member because of his/her exercising rights specifically reserved to
him/her under this Agreement. It is understood and agreed that employees
who believe they have been discriminated against under the terms of this
Agreement shall be limited to the statutorily provided time period of one
hundred eighty (180) days after the occurrence of the event giving rise
to their claim in which to file a charge pursuant to said statutes.
Menominee Education Association 1990-93 17-B
It is the school district's policy not to discriminate on the basis of
sex, religion, race, color, national origin, age, height, weight, marital
status, handicap or retaliation in education programs, activities or
Tri County Area Education Association 1990-93 9-GH
Section 2, Employment Relationships, Section 2.2, Teacher Rights
B. The Board agrees that it will in no way discriminate against employees
covered by this Agreement because of religion, race, color, national
origin, age, sex, height, weight, marital status, handicap or place of
Grass Lake Education Association 1990-93 3-AB
Article IV, Teachers' Rights and Responsibilities
B. Freedom from Discrimination. The Board, the Association, their agents
and members thereof agree that neither shall discriminate against any
employee of the district because of race, creed, religion, color,
national origin, age, sex, height, weight, marital status, or for
exercising his/her rights pursuant to Michigan Public Act 379. The time
limitations for filing a law suit or civil rights complaint for alleged
breach of this provision by the Board shall be limited to one (1) year
from the start of the action complained of.
Grosse Point Education Association 1990-93 6-E
Article IV, Fair Employment Practices
(5) The Board agrees that neither it nor any of its administrative agents
shall discriminate against any teacher in relation to employment or
promotion by reason of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, marital
status, age, height, weight, political activities, or membership or
participation in the Association or any other employee organization.
(6) The Association agrees that it shall admit all teachers to its
membership without discrimination by reason of race, creed, color,
national origin, sex, marital status, age, height, weight, political
activities, or membership or participation in the Association or any
other employee organization. Membership in the Association shall not be
required as a condition of employment of any teacher with the Board.
Article XI, Professional Responsibility, Obligation to Students
(257) In fulfilling his/her obligation to the students, the teacher . . .
(258d) Shall not on the ground of race, color, creed, age, sex, weight,
height, marital status, or national origin exclude any student from
participation in or deny him/her benefits under any program, nor grant
any discriminatory consideration or advantage.
New Haven Education Association 1991-93 6-E
Article XVII, Miscellaneous Provisions
D. The parties will apply the provisions of this Agreement without regard
to religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, or
Central Michigan University Faculty 1993-96 12-CE
Article 18, Position Reduction/Layoff
5. Decisions concerning layoff of bargaining unit members are based upon
recommendations originating in departments, which play an initial role in
the determination. These recommendations will be made without regard to
an individual's race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, height,
weight, handicap, marital status, sexual orientation, veteran status, or
other status protected by state and federal law.
Article 21, Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity
1. The Association and Central Michigan University agree that the express
terms and provisions of this collective bargaining agreement shall be
applied without regard to an individual's race, color, sex, religion,
national origin, age, height, weight, disability, marital status, sexual
orientation, veteran status, or other status protected by state and
Washtenaw Community College Education Association 1993-96 3-F
The provisions of this Agreement and the wages, hours, terms and
conditions of employment shall be applied in a manner which is consistent
and not discriminatory and without regard to race, religion, color,
national origin, age, sex, marital status, height, weight, or handicap.
North Central Michigan College Faculty 1991-93 14-BC
Article III, Union Security/Financial Responsibilities; Section 3,
The Employer shall not discriminate against any bargaining unit employee
because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, height,
weight, marital status or handicap which does not interfere with the
individual's ability to perform the job in question.
APPENDIX C: STATE LAWS
Michigan includes "weight" as a protected classification in the Elliott
Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976 , Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. 37.2101 (West
1994). The law states--
The opportunity to obtain employment, housing and other real estate, and
the full and equal utilization of public accommodations, public service,
and educational facilities without discrimination because of religion,
race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, or marital status
as prohibited by this act, is recognized and declared to be a civil
The District of Columbia prohibits discrimination based on "personal
appearance," which refers to "bodily condition or characteristics." The
D. C. Human Rights Act of 1977, D.C. Code Ann. 1-2501 (1981) states its
intent and defines "personal appearance" as follows:
It is the intent of the Council of the District of Columbia, in enacting
this act, to secure an end in the District of Columbia, to discrimination
for any reason other than that of individual merit, including, but not
limited to discrimination by reason of race, color, religion, national
origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual
orientation, family responsibilities, matriculation, political
affiliation, physical handicap, source of income, and place of residence
or business. ( 1-2501)
Definitions. (22) The outward appearance of any person, irrespective of
sex, with regard to bodily condition or characteristics, manner or style
of dress, and manner or style of personal grooming, including, but not
limited, to hair style and beards. ( 1-2502)
APPENDIX D: INTERVENTION AND PREVENTION MODELS
California Ad Hoc Interdisciplinary Committee on Children and Weight
Department of Nutrition Sciences Morgan Hall, Room 9A
University of California
Berkeley, California 94720
Director: Joanne Ikeda
This is one of the best programs for raising the esteem of obese children
and reducing self-hate among the obese and prejudice among the nonobese.
The program was founded in 1982 by a group of nutritionists,
psychologists, and anthropologists who have since produced English- and
Spanish-language materials and conducted training sessions and symposia
on obesity. The materials include a position paper, Children and Weight:
A Changing Perspective (Peck 1988) that recommends a three-tiered
prevention approach to childhood obesity. An in-service training kit,
Children and Weight: What Health Professionals Can Do About It helps
health professionals implement the recommendations in the position paper.
(The kit contains the position paper, a notebook of lesson plans, a
discussion provoking video tape, an audiotape containing points of view
on weight issues, and an evaluation instrument). Pamphlets and a video
program help health professionals focus on parents and caregivers of
children at risk of obesity. The training has reached over 3,000 health
professionals in various states, and the symposia reach professionals in
Ellyn Satter Associates
4226 Mandan Crescent
Madison, Wisconsin 53711
This group has developed a highly acclaimed program for treating the
attitudes and behaviors that surround the obese. A private enterprise, it
is directed by social worker and dietitian Ellyn Satter. The program
seeks to help patients eat and exercise in positive ways and feel good
about themselves and their bodies. Treatment includes identifying
destabilizing influences in children's lives (such as chaotic or rigid
families) and educating parents about feeding management.
Jeffery Sobal (1991, 129) of the Division of Nutritional Sciences at
Cornell University formulated a model for helping the obese defend
themselves against prejudice. The model assumes that the problem of
obesity resides in society's stigmatization of the obese and that the
intervention may be collective, such as organizational action and broad-
based education. Sobal's four-component sociological model is as follows:
a. Developing awareness that obesity is stigmatized
b. Gaining insight, information, and understanding about stigma
a. Anticipating settings and people involved in stigmatization
b. Preparing for stigmatizing acts
c. Prevention of stigmatization by information/exposure control
a. Coping with stigmatizing acts immediately
b. Coping with stigmatizing acts over the long run
a. Repairing the damage of stigmatizing acts
b. Recovering from problems resulting from stigmatization
c. Seeking restitution and compensation from stigmatization
d. Reforming stigmatizing actions and values of others
APPENDIX E: ADVOCACY AND RESOURCE ORGANIZATIONS
Association for the Health Enrichment of Large People (AHELP)
St. Albans Psychiatric Hospital
Radford, Virginia 24143
Phone: 1-(800) 368-3468, (703) 633-4501
For information: Joe McVoy, Ph.D.
AHELP is a professional organization that represents medical, mental
health, health education, and research professionals who serve people
labeled fat or obese. It promotes professional exchange, research, and
education programs. Its services include an annual conference, quarterly
newsletter (AHELP Forum), national referral service, educational
materials, national speakers' bureau, professional training and public
education programs, and an annual research award.
Council on Size and Weight Discrimination
P. O. Box 238
Columbia, Maryland 21045
Phone: (914) 679-9160
FAX: (914) 679-1209
President: Miriam Berg
The council was founded in 1992 to influence public policy and opinion to
reduce discrimination based on body size, shape, and weight.
National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA)
P. O. Box 188620
Sacramento, California 95818
Executive Director: Sally E. Smith
NAAFA was founded in 1969 to improve the quality of life for fat people
and oppose discrimination against fat people. It monitors legislation and
litigation, sponsors letter writing campaigns, sells books and
distributes materials, maintains a speakers bureau, and presents awards.
It also publishes the NAAFA Newsletter and holds an annual conference in
National Organization for Women (NOW)
1000 16th Street, N. W.
Washington, D. C. 20036
In 1990, NOW passed an anti-size discrimination resolution that calls on
NOW to oppose all size discrimination; condemn size discrimination in
employment, insurance, health care, education, adoption, and access;
support adding "size" or "height and weight" to protected categories in
existing equal opportunity laws; and endorse local, state, and federal
laws that ban such discrimination.
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