Woman forced to show her stoma bag after being refused entry to disabled toilet
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A 25-year-old woman used her stoma bag to confront a bouncer after she was asked what was wrong with her when she tried to use a disabled toilet.
We should all know by now that not all health issues or disabilities are visible, but Lauren Parkes, from Wolverhampton, West Midlands, found herself having to show proof of her Crohn's disease recently while on a night out with friends.
Lauren was diagnosed with the inflammatory bowel disease when she was 19, and in 2016 had a stoma bag fitted as part of her treatment.
She's admitted that it was 'quite scary' when she first received the diagnosis, but she's learned to 'love' her body.
Lauren has never previously been asked what's wrong with her or had any issues when trying to use a disabled toilet, but when she tried to go to the loo during a night out she was met by a bouncer who was 'turning people away from the disabled toilet'.
Lauren, a social media executive, explained: "I had used disabled toilet already a few times that night and it was nice and easy as there wasn't anyone on the door.
"When I went with friend there was then a security man on the door as there were five people waiting to use the toilet and he was turning people away from the disabled toilet.
"He started asking me why do I need to use it so I told him I was disabled and that I needed to use it. He then asked me what my issue was and what's the matter."
Lauren cut to the chase and got her stoma bag out, saying: "This is what is wrong with me."
"He was a bit taken aback as I don't think he expected me to do that," Lauren said.
"He then wasn't going to let my friend in, but my friend has colitis and I said she is allowed in as she has colitis. Another bowel condition... Showing the bouncer my stoma bag to use the toilet is something I never thought I would have to do."
Lauren explained that while her health issues aren't visible from an 'outsider's view', she still 'shouldn't be questioned about it as not all disabilities are visible'.
"When you go into supermarkets now there are signs saying all disabilities aren’t visible which is good.
"It's just really disappointing how security handled it, I felt like they were gatekeeping the toilets saying I didn't look disabled enough," she said.
Though Lauren was unhappy with the way the events played out, she admitted it was 'quite empowering' to show her stoma bag to the bouncer, adding: "Someone had to confront him and this was my way of confronting his wrongdoings.
"Luckily I am quite confident so I am happy to get it out, but someone else who may have an invisible disability probably wouldn't confront them.
"This is classed as discrimination under the equality act of 2010 - I was prevented from accessing a disabled toilet because I didn't look disabled enough and had to prove my disability after being questioned."
The venue where the incident took place has declined to comment on Lauren's claims.