Individuals with intellectual disabilities are people. You don't do stories about you're everyday average Joe going to prom. Yet here you've got an entire article about how great it is that these two went to prom together because he's a person who has downs syndrome. Are you kidding me?
In a society- to live in mutuality means you stop stuff like this. It praises this girl for taking someone to a dance who's "special". In life, we should acknowledge and celebrate differences in each other but as media source- all you're doing is pointing out that he's got Downs. That's it. That's him as a person and then we've got this "savior" girl who went to prom with him and is his friend and we're giving it media attention?!?!
I'm sure this girl is really nice. she may even be genuinely his friend and not asked for the attention - though her GIANT poster somewhat says otherwise. That doesn't scream exploitation to you?
The girl said the following and I wanted to barf:
"“I just feel like it really shows our friendship to the next level of where it actually is but people might not see behind closed doors,” said Snell."
"Behind closed doors" hmmm. Why is it behind closed doors and how the hell does this take it to the next level? You've got to be kidding me.
To be a friend with someone means you are their friend. You are their friend whether or not you get attention for it or not. You are their friend because they are a person you connect with, can share with, and have a relationship with. A thing that is completely separated from the attention you receive for being so nice to them. True friendship says- I care because who you are- is important as you are. The article states they've been friends for years. Good. That gives me a lot of hope. Hope that this friendship is far more than what is summarized in this article.
As a society- we have to recognize that A) we do a piss poor job of making people with any kind of disability welcome within the general public, B) we hero-ize people who do, and C) we need to acknowledge that people with disabilities are simply other people. Not "Other" people. Just people. That we can celebrate them as people but not define them because they are different. We can do our best to make sure we're inclusive so that we meet the needs of all the people who live in our communities without being "saviors". Simply because it should be the act of decent human beings.
You're a media source, you reach thousands, you could be a place to promote mutuality in society instead- we get this crap. Sure, we've come a ways since shunning people and putting them institutions but in reality we still discriminate plenty. We're just nicer about what kind of asshole we are. It's more insidious in that it pretends to be gracious.
This is not forward thinking. This is not helping move us into a better world. This is not helping people with disabilities. This continues the vein that they are "other" and would otherwise not be worthy. It devalues this person because apparently outside of his disability he's not worth remarking on. It is not "brave" that she go with him and it's not "awesome" that she is his friend anymore than it would be "awesome" that's she's friends with anyone else. I realize that those are not quotes from your article but that's how this is received.
Be better. You can do it. I believe in you.