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"I did not own that farm. I was involved in no fraudulent activities. I insured that farm. I know the government is trying to take it, and they can shove that deed up their subpoena." —Traficant, responding to questions from committee lawyer Paul Lewis about labor done at his family's horse farm.

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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 10-11, 1993:

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 to sensitivity.

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- Motivated Violence.

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.



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.


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 (Rothblum 1992).

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, she said.

"'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 1989)

Employee-Employee Interactions in Selected States

A line from a speech by a member from Maryland shows the nature of some employee-employee interactions:

"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 Law

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)]

State Law

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 Model.)

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).]



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

Black men
35.1 42.1

Black women
40.4 58.2

Hispanic men
26.7 40.5

Hispanic women
28.4 63.1

White men
29.7 44.9

White women
24.0 62.8

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 1994):

% 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.]


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
Front Page

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 employment.

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 residence.

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 marital status.

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 federal law.

Washtenaw Community College Education Association 1993-96 3-F
0024, Non-Discrimination

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.


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 right.

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)


California Ad Hoc Interdisciplinary Committee on Children and Weight
Department of Nutrition Sciences Morgan Hall, Room 9A
University of California
Berkeley, California 94720
Phone: 510-642-2790
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 California.

Ellyn Satter Associates
4226 Mandan Crescent
Madison, Wisconsin 53711
Phone: 608-271-7976

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.

Sobol-Cornell Model
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:

1. Recognition
a. Developing awareness that obesity is stigmatized
b. Gaining insight, information, and understanding about stigma

2. Readiness
a. Anticipating settings and people involved in stigmatization
b. Preparing for stigmatizing acts
c. Prevention of stigmatization by information/exposure control

3. Reaction
a. Coping with stigmatizing acts immediately
b. Coping with stigmatizing acts over the long run

4. Repair
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


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
Phone: 916-558-6880
FAX: 916-558-6881
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 mid-August.

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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