Institutions to Independence
Know Your Rights: An Illustrated Essay
The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
Produced by David Gillette, Twin Cities Public Television
Here's an important idea to remember: No matter who you are, and no matter how you live, you have rights, and these rights are meant to protect you. Now, most people understand your rights, but, sometimes, people do act unfairly and you have to stick up for yourself to make sure you're treated with the respect you deserve. It can be hard, but it needs to be done, and if you're ever confused or scared, there are people who can help.
Here are some examples of your rights. First, you have the right to dignity and respect. This means nobody should hit you, kick you, or touch you without your permission. This also means nobody should yell at you, say words that are meant to hurt you, or take away your medication.
You also have the right to control your money. This means you can buy the things you want, and no one should tell you how to spend your money or take away your money without your permission.
Another important right is the right to live the way you want. This means you can make friends with the people you want, you can work at the job you want, and you can live with whoever you want to live with. It can be easy to let other people tell you how you should do these things, and listening to good advice is important, but you also need to speak up if the people in your life aren't listening or giving you a choice.
These are only some of your rights. It would take a long time to list all of them, but they do have one thing in common... you have the right to be treated just like everybody else, no matter who you are and no matter how you live your life.
Here's the good part. If you ever need help protecting yourself, you also have the right to due process. This means you can get answers to your questions and use those answers to change the way people are treating you.
That's why it's so important to learn your rights, to ask for help if nobody's listening to you, and to share what you know with others. It's simply the right thing to do!