AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Groups including Global Exchange and Green America, both part of the ‘Raise The Bar Campaign’ to make Hershey fair trade, will join together with activists from the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) as well as MCC Philadelphia, ACT UP Philadelphia & AHF, protesting Hershey over AIDS discrimination at the Milton Hershey School
Protest Tuesday, May 1st from 9:30am to 11:30am outside Hershey’s AGM in Hershey, PA
While the Hershey Company hosts its Annual General Meeting Tuesday May 1st, in Hershey, PA, as many as one hundred activists from the Raise The Bar Campaign to make Hershey fair trade, will join together with activists from the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) as well as Metropolitan Community Church of Philadelphia (MCC-Philadelphia), ACT UP Philadelphia, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), protesting Hershey over an incident of AIDS discrimination at the Milton Hershey School, will descend on Hershey, PA to host a lively protest outside the company’s AGM. The protest is set for Tuesday, May 1st from 9:30am to 11:30am (Eastern).
WHAT: HERSHEY PROTEST—Up to 100 protesters expected to picket Hershey’s Annual
General Meeting over child labor and fair trade violations as well as a the case of AIDS
discrimination at the Milton Hershey School following its decision to deny admission to an
WHEN: Tuesday, May 1st 9:30am – 11:30am (EASTERN)
WHERE: The Hershey Company
Hershey Park Blvd. and Park Blvd., Hershey, PA 17033 (outside of Chocolate World)
WHO: The Raise The Bar Campaign; the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) as well as Metropolitan
Community Church of Philadelphia, ACT UP Philadelphia, and AIDS Healthcare Foundation
CONTACT: Jessica Reinhart, Grassroots Community Manager, Cell: (323) 203-6146
“Hershey needs to take corporate responsibility for their practices and we are demanding Hershey executives and trustees to stop exploiting children, students and workers as well as that the Milton Hershey School—funded by Hershey—reverse its decision to deny admission to an HIV-positive teen,” said Jessica Reinhart, Grassroots Community Manager for AIDS Healthcare Foundation and a leader of several protests against Hershey over its AIDS discrimination. “We are honored to join again with MCC and Act Up Philadelphia to protest Hershey’s AIDS discrimination and with the groups running Raise The Bar campaign targeting Hershey over fair trade and child labor issues as well as with NGA in their quest to protect Hershey workers and create local living wage jobs at the company in dignified conditions.”
Background on Hershey School AIDS Discrimination
The Milton Hershey School—a boarding school for low-income students funded by the Hershey Company—recently rejected the boy for admission citing his HIV-positive status as the reason, misguidedly calling him a “direct threat to the health and safety of others.” AHF has also launched a website www.EndHIVStigma.org where the public can learn more about the case, learn the facts about HIV/AIDS and send e-letters to three Hershey Company board members who also sit on the board of the Milton Hershey School Trust, urging them to denounce the discrimination and facilitate the boy’s admission into the school.
“The blatant discrimination and ignorance displayed by Hershey in this case is simply unacceptable. Ultimately, it is the Hershey Company itself, as the main funder of the school, that must answer for the decision not to admit the boy—a decision fueled by prejudice and fear,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “If Hershey is truly a company that believes in its social responsibility creed of ‘commitment to consumers, community and children,’ it will denounce this illegal and repugnant discrimination and immediately facilitate the enrollment of the boy at the school.”
“It’s appalling that Hershey Company would sit by and let AIDS stigma dictate school policy at the Milton Hershey School,” said Rev. Jeffrey Jordan, pastor of MCC-Philadelphia. “We want to see the Hershey Company use their leverage as Board members to change the policy at the school for good.”
According to the Associated Press (Claim: Hershey School Rejects HIV-Positive Pa. Boy, By Peter Jackson, 12/1/11): “A private boarding school connected with the Hershey chocolate company says it was trying to protect other students when it denied admission to a Philadelphia-area teenager because he is HIV-positive. The AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit on behalf of the unidentified boy in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on Wednesday, claiming the Milton Hershey School for disadvantaged students violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. School officials acknowledged that the 13-year-old boy was denied admission because of his medical condition. They said they believed it was necessary to protect the health and safety of the 1,850 others enrolled in the residential institution, which serves children in pre-kindergarten to 12th grade and where students live in homes with 10 to 12 others.”
“The ignorance displayed by the Hershey School’s leadership is unacceptable and demonstrates just how much work there is still to be done to dismantle the fear and misinformation that still surrounds this disease more than 25 years after Ryan White,” said Jessica Reinhart, Grassroots Community Manager for AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
Ryan White was an American teenager from Kokomo, Indiana who, in the mid-1980s, was expelled from middle school because he was HIV-positive. A lengthy legal battle with the school ensued and White became a galvanizing force in educating the country about HIV & AIDS at a time when misinformation about the disease was widespread. After his death in 1990, the U.S. Congress passed a major piece of legislation named in his honor, the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides funding for HIV/AIDS programs for low-income Americans.