The National Stuttering Association is extremely troubled by recent media reports indicating that a customer at a West Philadelphia Starbucks location was mocked due to his stuttering.
Media reports indicate that a 28-year-old doctoral student named Sam who stutters was ridiculed by a barista verbally and in print on his cup.
Starbucks spokesperson Reggie Borges said, “We are taking this incident seriously, and we have begun a full investigation.
We have a zero-tolerance policy for any kind of discrimination. We don’t feel like this [discrimination] is reflective of our values or of our mission. We want everyone who comes to our stores to feel valued and to have a positive experience.”
If these reports are true, the actions taken by the barista are unacceptable and harmful to the stuttering community.
“Teasing a person about stuttering, no matter the environment, is wrong and reinforces commons misconceptions about people stutter, said Gerald Maguire, MD, Chair of the NSA. “This news not only affects the individual who experienced this level of disrespect, but it also discourages countless other people who stutter from feeling empowered and comfortable with how they speak.”
The NSA urges Starbucks to reexamine its practices in working with people who stutter and offers to provide sensitivity training for its employees to learn more about the truths and myths about stuttering.
Those seeking more information about or support for stuttering can find it at www.westutter.org.