Hershey School faces lawsuit for turning away HIV-positive pupil

Picketers try to bite into candy firm's sales to fight 'discrimination and ignorance' at institution

Los Angeles

They put a smile in every chocolate bar, according to the famous advertising slogan. But it may take more than a toothy grin for the all-American "candy" firm Hershey's to shrug off its latest PR crisis.

Demonstrators picketed company properties in several major cities over the Easter weekend to protest a decision that saw a boarding school tied to Hershey's refuse to admit a teenager because he was HIV positive.

Aids-awareness campaigners everywhere from New York and San Francisco to, oddly, Delhi, called on consumers to boycott the company's confectionery amid an ongoing legal dispute between the unnamed 14-year-old and the Milton Hershey School in Pennsylvania.

The prestigious academic institution is run by the Milton Hershey School Trust, a charity which owns a controlling stake in the chocolate multinational. Late last year, it decided to turn away the boy because of his medical condition. Campaigners say the child, who controls his condition with medication, poses no threat to fellow students at the school, which was established by the Hershey's founder in 1909 and educates roughly 1,850 students from low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds.

They have therefore filed a lawsuit over the decision to withdraw his place there, saying that it violates the Americans With Disabilities Act. "For a 14-year-old to hear that he's a danger, he's a threat, that's been really hard for him," said Ronda Goldfien, an attorney for the AIDS law project.

This weekend's protests were organised to coincide with Easter, one of the most lucrative events in the chocolate industry's global calendar. Organisers said that the Hershey school's treatment of its potential pupil reflects ignorance and prejudice on a scale that has not been widely seen for decades. "We are asking the public to send a clear message to Hershey that there are No Kisses for Hershey as Hershey continues its path of discrimination and ignorance," read a statement from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Hershey's has yet to comment on the affair, but the Milton Hershey School Trust said it had banned the boy from attending because of the risk that he might end up having sexual intercourse with a fellow pupil.

"We systematically encourage abstinence, and we educate our children on sexual health issues," it said in a statement. But "our teenagers are the same as teens all across the country. Despite our best efforts, some of our students will engage in sexual activity with one another. Given our residential setting, when they do, they will be doing so on our watch."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Growing Law firm

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable law firm based in central London ...

Ashdown Group: Part time Network Support Analyst / Windows Systems Administrat

£30 per hour: Ashdown Group: An industry leading and well established business...

The Jenrick Group: Controls Engineer

Negotiable: The Jenrick Group: A Controls Engineer is urgently required for a ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Manager

£32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an an exciting opportunity to jo...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas