There is no excuse to be using the word ‘retard(ed)’. The R-word is offensive, derogatory, demeaning, and exclusive. Even when the R-word is not said to harm someone with a disability, it is still hurtful. I have a cousin with special needs and I am aware of the pain the R-word can cause. I believe that it is important to take a stand because everyone deserves to be respected.
Originally the terms “mental retardation” or “mentally retarded” were medical terms. However, today “retard” and “retarded” have become common terms used to insult something or someone stupid. Using these terms as synonyms for “dumb” or “stupid” reinforces hurtful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities. In addition it makes people with disabilities feel as if they are less valued members of society.
In 2008, the Special Olympics launched R-word.org to address society’s inappropriate use of the R-word. The following year the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign was created by youth with and without intellectual disabilities. The campaign’s goal is to make people aware of the harmful effects of the use of the R-word.
President Barack Obama signed Rosa’s Law in 2010. This was a big milestone for people with intellectual disabilities. It removed the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from federal health, education and labor policy and replaced them with “individual with an intellectual disability” and “intellectual disability.” Our government is taking action to change their wording to people first language, now it is our turn.
There are many ways you can get involve and make changes in your community!
Photo via: R-word.org