Bar accused model with stoma of taking drugs after she used disabled toilet
In 2019, you would think the stigma of unseen disabilities would have washed away to the extent that we would no longer be accusing people of feigning a disability just because they don't look disabled.
However, this is the prejudice a student and model experienced when she was accused by staff at a Wetherspoons - a popular bar chain across the UK - of selling drugs, all because she was using the disabled toilet, the Metro has reported.
Amber Davies, 21, has since penned an open letter to Wetherspoons staff calling for better awareness of invisible disabilities after she was allegedly "grabbed" by security after exiting the toilet, and accused of using the bathroom for the wrong reasons.
Davies was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis aged 13 and, since then, uses a stoma and has to make frequent trips to the bathroom. However, staff at The Dragon Inn in Birmingham "very happily and very openly accused me of snorting, dealing and having sex in the disabled toilet for 'there is no other reason I would need to visit it so often'".
In the open letter, posted to her 5.1K Instagram followers, Davies revealed that the Wetherspoons staff did apologize for the "confusing situation", but said Amber should have made her disability known.
Speaking to the BBC, Davies said:
"I got grabbed by a female bouncer and my boyfriend by a male bouncer, we were accused of using them [the disabled toilet] for the wrong reasons. She [the bouncer] was quite reluctant to listen to my side of the story, I said it bluntly and I didn't raise my voice once."
The BBC report that Davies had gained access to the locked disabled toilet using a radar key - a large silver-colored key that people with disabilities can use to open more than 9,000 accessible toilets in the UK - staff "kept shouting" and her boyfriend, who had gone in the toilet with her. The couple were then escorted outside.
"I was upset at the time, we hadn't done anything wrong, I spoke well considering. I was more annoyed that people were allowed to behave that way. [It's] just completely unacceptable and they're such a big chain, you'd think they'd have training or be knowledgeable before grabbing us."
In her emotional post, Davies detailed how her stoma "needs constant care" and often requires emptying up to 15 times a day: "It can make going out, especially on nights out, a pretty daunting prospect".
The 21-year-old also described her disability as a "chronic, debilitating, lifelong illness".
The student - who is preparing for her third year at Cardiff University - contacted the Wetherspoons branch to complain about her treatment, and has since been offered a gift card in response.
Per the BBC, a spokesperson for Weatherspoons has said:
"A female member of door staff spoke with Ms Davies, who explained her disability.
"Staff expressed that if this had been known beforehand, or an explanation given sooner, the situation could have been avoided.
"Staff listened at length to Ms Davies' points, never once questioning her disability and apologized for the confusing situation on both sides."
If you would like to know more about Amber's story and support her with her 10km run for Crohn's & Colitis UK, then check out her JustGiving page here.