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TX: 14.11.03 – PEOPLE OF RESTRICTED GROWTH CAMPAIGN TO COMBAT PREJUDICE

 

PRESENTER: JOHN WAITE


WAITE
Around 30,000 people in the UK have restricted growth, 75 per cent are born to parents of average height. The Restricted Growth Association has been campaigning to raise awareness of the difficulties their members have in every day life and the prejudice they encounter in the media and society generally. They also want the Disability Discrimination Act to be strengthened to give them more protection from discrimination. At present not all people of restricted growth are covered by the Act, the DDA does not explicitly mention people of restricted growth, making it harder to bring cases under the law. Over a hundred MPs have now signed an early day motion supporting the RGA's campaign.

Well in the week when more than 200 people of restricted growth carried out a mass lobby of parliament we spoke to two members of the RGA - April Barrett and Steven Scott - about their lives and the discrimination and stereotyping they face.

BARRETT
Every day situations in life deferred from somebody actually shouting - You little fat midget, you little fat dwarf - to giggles to just plain laughing out loud.

SCOTT
I've faced many periods where we've had to put up with insults and let it pass us by - being patted on the head, being called grumpy or anyone of the characters out of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Being treated as though you are the age of your height, being treated like a seven-year-old and not taken seriously.

BARRETT
My daughter has come up against physical abuse in the street. It's true, just being small and asking why somebody's looking at her. A person actually came up to hit her. Luckily she'd got - we've got a little Jack Russell and the Jack Russell chased him well away.

SCOTT
Having to put up with remarks on these chat shows where they say - Gosh is this person a dwarf, a child or a midget? That's not acceptable in this day and age.

BARRETT
The way TV programmes show restricted growth is in a very bad light, it's usually in such programmes where they actually take the Mickey and there's an audience and it's just actually ridiculed in somebody who looks completely different to them and comical to them. And to my mind it's the only disability that they're actually getting away with doing this thing to.

SCOTT
We continue to face in other areas discrimination, getting dwarf children into mainstream education, comments like - We may disrupt the class because we are smaller. We have examples where for simple costs of adapting chairs or desks or providing footstools are refused, yet local education authorities have funding for that.

BARRETT
The discrimination that restricted growth people do face in the employment field is phenomenal. We've actually witnessed it with my daughter. She got a good job actually when she was 18 as a hotel receptionist and they built her a nice big box to stand on and she was getting on really well and had actually had the mystery customer and got top marks for it. But along with this went the problems of who she actually worked with, of these sort of beautiful all in proportion nice girls and calling her Bridget the midget behind her back and asking if she's got a boyfriend and which way she actually performed the act of sex. It was very, very awful for her and she actually had to seek counselling after she'd walked out of the job.

SCOTT
You very rarely have roles where we meet the customers, they're often turned down for the employment the moment the employer realises they're a dwarf and it's very difficult to prove that and bring a discriminatory claim. There are cases where they're turned for promotion simply because the people that they would be responsible for don't want to report to a dwarf.

BARRETT
This is, after all, only a shell that we're living, we'll all given a shell and this is mine.

WAITE
April Barrett and Steven Scott.





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