Friday, March 26, 2010

Age Discrimination

The real story of Colin Carlson is with his talent and ambitions, and no doubt remains to be written. At thirteen, he's pursuing two degrees at a university level, and plans on going for Ph.D.'s in ecology and evolutionary biology, as well as a degree in environmental law all by the time he's 22. And just like all trailblazers, he's already running into some tough opposition.

UConn, his school, has rejected his request to take a course which includes travel to South Africa as part of it's summer field work requirement. Though he's qualified in every way, and no one doubts he couldn't hold his own on site with the other students, it's his age that's holding him back. Now he's claiming he's being discriminated against because of his age. And though he doesn't want to have to fight for this opportunity, he's determined to see it through:

"When people are drawing lines in the sand, you're going to have to cross them," he said. "I'm not going back."

Of course he's talking about the arbitrary age limits that are encroaching on his ambitions. Now obviously most ordinary students aren't placed into the position that Colin is, and extraordinary young people are inevitably going to face the adult-defined legal restrictions, but even more ordinary students face many unnecessary legal restrictions on a daily basis. And even when legal restrictions are waivered (as his mother has offered to chaperone his voyage as well as sign away all the university's liability for him), extraordinary youths seem to inevitably run into adult thickheadedness. Obviously nobody wants to restrict a young person pursuing their goals, so long as those goals are along a preset scale of expectations.

Let's hope, however this turns out, that Colin gets to go to South Africa.

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