Boy turned away from camp files civil rights complaint

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kent County family has filed a civil rights complaint with the state, claiming a Grand Rapids YMCA discriminated against their son, who has disabilities.

Eleven-year-old Ezequiel Gonzalez, who also goes by Q, has spinal muscular atrophy, which keeps him in an electric wheelchair.

His parents told 24 Hour News 8 in June that a Mary Free Bed YMCA day camp accepted Ezequiel. But after his first day, camp officials reportedly said they could no longer accommodate the young boy.

As his parents scrambled to find an alternative, community members stepped up to help. Ezequiel was able to attend a few other camps, but the summer wasn't all smiles for the family.

"He displayed such positivity, but it was still like something was there for him," his father Gamalier Gonzalez said Wednesday.

"He's in long-term counseling related to some of the issues that were raised for him personally from this," Anna Lane, Gonzalez's fiancée, said.

The couple filed a complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

But before that, they asked Ezequiel what he wanted to do and if he felt comfortable having to talk about what happened again.

"I wanted to say yes because what they (the YMCA) did is not right," Ezequiel said at his family's Belmont home. "And just like anybody, they should be able to take responsibility for their actions."

"For me, as a father, I wanted to stand for Q and back him up, especially when he's fighting to make a change," Gonzalez said.

View the full story on Wood TV


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