Charlie smiling and enjoying some food in a restaurant

My daughter was thrown out of a pub for being disabled

Last weekend, after celebrating Brighton Pride, Jenny’s daughter Charlie was asked to leave a pub because she is disabled. Jenny chose to share their experience in a post on Facebook and the response has been amazing, with messages of support coming from hundreds of people. The post has now been shared over 1000 times, as well as in the media.

In this blog Jenny shares her story, why she felt she needed to write it, and why raising awareness of invisible disabilities is so important to her.

My 19-year-old daughter Charlie has two chromosome abnormalities and is a bit of an enigma. On the one hand, she is very innocent, child-like and can’t read or write but, on the other hand, she has a great vocabulary and wants to be a teenager, just like other young people her age. She will never be able to do things on her own because she is vulnerable and unaware of consequences. Anyone who has met Charlie will know that she is one of the sweetest people you could ever wish to meet.

On Sunday night, Charlie was thrown out of a pub in Brighton – for being disabled. There was only one other customer in the pub as everyone else was sitting outside on the benches. As we were being served, I suddenly noticed that Charlie was crouching quietly on the floor with her hands over her ears. She said it was because a sudden burst of loud music had startled her. The barman said she would have to leave.

I was shocked and explained that she was disabled, that the music had temporarily scared her but that she was okay now. He insisted that she was not welcome no matter how calmly I tried to explain why this was wrong. We had no option but to do as they asked.

Why I chose to share our experience

This was the first time I’d written about something like this. Brighton is quite an inclusive place and Charlie and I are quite well known. We’ve never really had much experience of negativity. When we were told to leave the pub, I tried my best to explain why it wasn’t acceptable in a calm, friendly manner, but they were just completely dismissive. They said “Right you’ve had your say, now you have to leave”. I was frustrated and sad, more than angry, about the injustice of it.

It affected Charlie very badly. She was devastated. She said she wanted to die, she said that she didn’t want to be disabled. She just thought everybody hated her. And I thought people don’t hate her, people really, really like her. So I just wanted to put it out there because it was so unfair and I thought people who knew Charlie would be able to say “Well Charlie’s lovely” because she is.

Headshot of Jenny and her daughter Charlie smiling with the sea in the background
Jenny and Charlie smiling for the camera

The response has been amazing

I just thought it would be shared among my friends so it’s very strange now that it’s been shared 1000 times! Charlie’s had so many amazing comments from lots of people, those who know her and people who are feeling the indignation on her behalf.

Charlie can’t read or write and never will be able to, but I’ve been able to read out the comments that people have left. It was amazing to get those supportive messages. And what has been particularly uplifting but also sad, is to see that so many other people have had similar experiences, all over. Not just in pubs but with the general public.

I want to raise awareness of invisible disabilities

Things like this do seem to happen more with invisible disabilities than physical disabilities. As I said in my Facebook post, at the pub I asked if he’d discriminate against a wheelchair user and he said “Of course not” and I said “Well what’s the difference?”.

Life can be very difficult. For instance, this morning, although Charlie is 19 and a half, I’ve had to shower her, wash her hair, make all her food and drink. I’ve had to rescue the microwave twice. Sometimes it’s exhausting and to have to also cope with unnecessary discrimination as well, it’s so completely unfair. Why shouldn’t a disabled person be able to live their life the way they want, just like any non-disabled person?

If this is a chance to stop this happening again, I’m going to do all I can

Charlie smiling at the cameraQuite a few people have said that this might set a precedent, which would be wonderful. Hopefully invisible disabilities will be recognised and accepted in the same way that visible ones would be. I hope people like Charlie and other disabled people, don’t have to go through this again. It would be wonderful to think they can just live their lives without anyone discriminating against them.

Making people aware is a hugely positive thing. I’m not somebody who would normally go out and ‘sell ourselves’ but if this is a chance to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again, I’m going to do all I can. Because that’s the only way change is going to happen.

You can read Jenny’s full post here. If you have a story you would like to share, get in touch with Scope’s Stories team.

Update

The Mash Tun pub have investigated this incident and the staff member involved has been dismissed from their job. The Mash Tun are now working with the disability organisation Enable Me to improve the way they treat their disabled customers. Jenny has also released a new statement on Facebook about what happened. 

 

16 thoughts on “My daughter was thrown out of a pub for being disabled”

  1. I have been discriminated against many times in my life over the last 49 years because of my disability . I know it knocks your confidence, Please do not let it, your strong then that, and some people still do not understand certain disabilities but keep holding your head up high and smile back at them

  2. Thankyou for raising people’s awareness. The wider community have a lot to learn. People’s ignorance often makes them respond in thoughtless and inappropriate ways. ♡

  3. Society really needs educating on hidden disabilities, just because you can’t see what is ‘wrong’ with our children doesn’t men that they should be treated as though they are scum. I hope the pub is boycotted by all in Brighton, maybe then they will apologise for their disgraceful behaviour

  4. Definitely not on, everyone deserves the chance to go wherever they want, shameful in This day and age. Lovely girl she sounds from your story. This is discrimination of the disabled surely???

  5. It isn’t acceptable Charlie and it is breaking the law to treat you this way. The strange thing is that because you were startled they became frightened of you! How silly is that! Grown men were so scared of a pretty girl that they would have run away if they could but they couldn’t so they bullied you and your Mum. Your Mum is very proud of you and everything you do, their Mum’s will be ashamed to hear that their sons picked on a young lady. Keep your chin up, you are worth 50 of them and the whole world knows it. Good luck to you in all you do.

  6. Can totally understand your frustration, as foster parents of an autistic boy we get many rude and unsympathetic comments to his sometimes spontaneous noises and behaviours when out and about, truly an invisible condition, people just judge what they see which is sad.

  7. Jenny, I couldn’t believe there were people who still behave this way towards vulnerable adults until I witnessed it myself.

    It is against the law for service providers to treat people this way. It seems you had a good go at challenging them in a positive way unfortunately they did not see the error of there way.

    Please contact the Equality Commission and name and shame the pub.

  8. I feel for you both I have an invisible disability myself and to be treated like that is appalling if I lived in Brighton I would get people to boycott the pub. Their behavior is disgusting. Sending hugs for Charlie and you from Oxford xx

  9. never mind Charlie brush it of like I do love not all people are cruel. perhaps we should feel sorry for mr perfect
    living in his own little selfish world

  10. Keep smiling Charlie. The pub clearly go it so wrong and have made a scape goat of the barman… Well the public will no doubt vote with their feet. I doubt this will have done their business any good at all. Smile on lovely lady. x

  11. Their actions are not in the spirit of Pride the people of Brighton celebrated that day that is about acceptance and celebration of all people. I hope a kind hotelier has offered you a couple of days free accommodation for next year and you are treated to the wonderful day you deserved.

    Will be sharing this story with the organisers of the event to make them aware.

  12. yes it’s full on discrimination! Please don’t let this stop you and your daughter from going out to other pubs otherwise idioms like that poorly bad educated sad bully would win. Keep your head up high.

  13. Hidden disabilities are anything from a disability that isn’t seen to one that shows itself when the person is challenged side effects of medication can be classed as a disability and if the police are involved they should be made aware of this, because if a person make a challenge on another person and they would have brushed it off but because of medication it make them react differently then, in my book that is a discrimination.

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