Disability Advocate, Artist, Plaintiff Olmstead v. L.C.
Lois Curtis (14 July 1967 – 3 November 2022) was an artist and activist with intellectual, developmental, and cognitive disabilities. During her childhood and early adulthood, Curtis was placed in state-run institutions, and her requests to live in the community were repeatedly denied. In 1995, Curtis sued the state of Georgia and her case went to the Supreme Court. Lois was one of the plaintiffs in the now-famous L.C. v. Olmstead Supreme Court decision. Olmstead established the right of individuals with disabilities to live in the least restrictive settings possible including the right to live in the community, to be provided adequate supports, and that a person’s mental or physical disabilities alone isn’t enough to justify a person living in an institution. While she was growing up, Curtis was diagnosed with intellectual and mental disabilities. At 11-years-old she was sent to live at Georgia Regional Hospital, a mental institution for people with disabilities. By the time she was 19, Curtis was miserable at the facility where she was living and made clear her desire to live in the community. In 1995, the Atlanta Legal Aid Society assisted Curtis in filing a lawsuit against the state of Georgia, claiming discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Curtis is no longer confined to an institution – until her untimely death Lois lived in an apartment she shared with Petula who helped her with activities of daily living. She also worked as a visual artist and public speaker. Her case paved the way for people with disabilities to not only have more independence, but also have a choice in the life they want to live.