Family demands change after movie theater denies their diabetic teen his medical supplies

A family is fighting for change after a local movie theater denied a diabetic teen some of his medical supplies at the door. 
 
"I was very upset," said Ryan Symens. 
 
Symens, 16, has type one diabetes. Everywhere he goes, so does his backpack. It's his diabetic emergency pack. The contents include insulin, testing equipment, an emergency injection called Glucagon, boxes of Juicy Juice and two protein bars. 
 
On Saturday, after completing a walk for diabetes, Symens and a group of friends went to the Lakewood Ranch Cinemas to catch a matinee showing of "Divergent." 
 
But the teen was stopped before he could get into the theater. 
 
"The manager stopped me and said what's inside your bag," the teen recalls. 
 
Symens explained the contents. He said he even showed the manager his diabetic bracelet. But the theater wouldn't budge.
 
According to the movie theater's policy, no outside food or beverages are allowed in. 
 
"I just kept explaining that I'm a diabetic and I've been many places and I have not had this problem before," Symens said.
 
But according to the teen, he was told that's a "personal problem." He was forced to leave his medically-measured protein bars and juice at the front while he watched the movie.
 
When his father found out, he was floored.
 
"The first thing was just shock," Chad Symens said . "It was just, I guess, that disappointment that my son was treated that way. It was difficult to handle."
 
Chad immediately contacted the Sarasota Film Society for answers. Two days later, he got the following email in reply, which he forwarded to ABC Action News. 
 

Dear Chad,

Forgive me for not responding sooner to your e-mail on April 12th regarding the incident involving your son at our theater. Before responding, I needed some clarification on exactly what transpired, since there are conflicting stories. However, in any case there is no excuse for the insensitivity shown to your son by our staff. To say they were following instructions regarding our policy on food and beverage, although true, would not fit this particular criteria. The individuals meant no malice toward your son, but obviously had no idea of the severity of his medical condition and his specific needs. Further, to prevent this from occurring again, the individuals have been spoken to and made aware of their mishandling of a very delicate situation.

Not that it is of any consolation, but Sarasota Film Society, of which Lakewood Ranch Cinema is part of, has donated partial proceeds from our game room for the first two years to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. We have also received personal recognition from the foundation for other efforts as well.

Therefore, I accept full responsibility for their actions and offer my sincere apologies on their behalf. As I have stated no malice was intended, however poor judgment was certainly used.

Best Regards,


Barbara Caras

Sarasota Film Society, Inc.
 

But the email was not enough for the Symens family. They want a public apology and a policy change that would allow diabetics and others with special needs to be able to bring their medical supplies into the movies.
 
"Then, the next diabetic who is standing in front of that podium will have a reference and some means to protect themselves from being discriminated against," Symens said.
 
All attempts to contact Barbara Caras with the Sarasota Film Society went unanswered on Wednesday.

 

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