(Washington, DC – January 30) – Earlier this week, Delta Airlines did not allow two attendees of the National LGBTQ Task Force’s 31st Annual Creating Change Conference in Detroit to travel home. The airline called the police on Socorro Garcia and Melissa Elmira Yingst and denied them their ability to communicate. The National LGBTQ Task Force is shocked at Delta’s actions against two deaf Creating Change Conference goers on Monday and issued this statement:
“No one should have to fear that Delta will call the police on them for simply being deaf, blind, or disabled. Delta should take immediate steps to prevent future incidents from occurring.
We expect more from Delta. The airline must immediately apologize to Socorro Garcia and Melissa Elmira Yingst, and reimburse them for the additional travel costs they had to incur, and provide new strong protections and guidelines for working with deaf, blind, and disabled passengers.
The National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change Conference has been one of the most welcoming and accessible conferences in the country for over 30 years. This year’s 31st Creating Change Conference in Detroit closed with a brunch on Sunday honoring 50 years of LGBTQ activism since the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969. What should’ve been a day of celebration and reflection became a day of confusion, fear, and anger for two of our participants.
This type of discrimination happens all too often to people who travel while Black or Brown, deaf, queer, and/or transgender. This incident underscores the need for education, training, and policies to protect deaf, deafblind, hard of hearing, and disabled people from discrimination and violence. Policy changes and education are needed for all airline, airport, and airport security.
It deeply pains us that Socorro Garcia and Melissa Elmira Yingst ended the conference with this unacceptable incident. The National LGBTQ Task Force will always work to do better. We encourage Delta to work harder on its own journey towards disability justice.”