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July 26, 2007

Summer Camp Sued for Barring Positive 10-Year-Old

A New York state summer camp wouldn’t let a 10-year-old boy join a week-long basketball training in 2004 because he has HIV, according to a lawsuit filed last month by the boy’s mother. Deer Mountain Day Camp, which denies the charges, won’t give its own version of the story pending the investigation. But the plaintiffs are painting a grim picture of the 50-year-old retreat.

The unnamed family charges that the boy’s mother paid for her son to attend the Pomona, NY, camp and alerted staff to the boy’s HIV status without any trouble. They say that a few days before camp was supposed to begin, however, they were told the child wouldn’t be allowed in. “It is clear from their actions that this denial was based on outmoded and harmful stereotypes and not science,” said Howard Sherwin, senior attorney at the Legal AID Society of Rockland County, one of the family’s lawyers working on the case.

Not so, says Deer Mountain owner Roberta Katz. “We make every effort to accommodate children with special medical needs,” she told POZ. “We do expect this case to be resolved and show that Deer Mountain and its one-week basketball academy did not engage in wrongful discrimination.”

Deer Mountain is accredited by The American Camp Association, which instructs camps not to discriminate against employees or campers with HIV.

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