Latest News » Houston waiter draws attention to Down syndrome discrimination

One waiter stood up for a boy with Down syndrome, and has been deemed a national hero.

One waiter stood up for a boy with Down syndrome, and has been deemed a national hero.

If you are caring for someone with Down syndrome, you’re undoubtedly aware that, among the numerous challenges it can pose in terms of nutrition and development, many people with this condition  must also contend with an all too prevalent social stigma.

In January, one Texas waiter decided to speak up for those with special needs. In a story that has catapulted Down syndrome discrimination to the national stage, Michael Garcia, a long-time waiter at Laurenzo’s in Houston, refused service to a group of customers after they made disparaging remarks about another patron of the restaurant – a five-year-old boy with Down syndrome.

The party, who had originally been seated at a booth next to the family of young Milo Castillo, asked to be moved. Then, Garcia reportedly overhead one customer make an offensive remark about the boy. The waiter told the group that he would not be able to serve them, and scolded them for speaking that way about Milo, who Garcia described as “a beautiful five-year-old angel.”

Since the event, Garcia has been lauded as a hero by national media outlets and the general public alike. His actions also spurred Connor Long, an 18-year-old with Down syndrome, to write an open letter to express his gratitude, as well as his frustration.

Long commends Garcia and says that, “by drawing a line on bad behavior by people with hard hearts and simply showing love for Milo [he] stood up for everyone with Down syndrome and special needs.”

However, Long also laments the fact that the event has been considered so remarkable.

“It is unfortunate that the act of a decent, caring, everyday human being willing to do the right thing is so rare,” writes Long, adding that there is a need for more individuals who “are willing to do and say what is fair and supportive,” not as an act of heroism, but because “it is the right thing to do and needs to be done.”

To read Connor Long’s open letter in full, click here.