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R-Word: Take The Pledge

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 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.

Are you ready to take action?
Take the pledge.
Speak up, loudly!
R-word in media.

There are many ways you can get involve and make changes in your community!

PS If you like this post, check out:
Help Child Farmworkers
Girls Learn International
The Unfinished Revolution

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  • Bambi Troxell

    Thanks for posting. I’m an SLP and I work in a center dedicated to serving children/adults with intellectual disabilities. The r-word is hurtful and they do understand the negative association that comes with that word. Our children/adults are such special individuals- they make me smile all day long and I’m lucky to have them as part of my life. I’ll continue to encourage this pledge :)

    • Hannah Taylor

      I completely agree!

  • Ashley Heffernan

    I love this post. I have a sister with mental retardation and I think this movement to stop the hateful and hurtful use of the R word is extremely important!

  • Jessi ‘Marrott’ Parrott

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have Cerebral Palsy and, although it affects me in an entirely physical way, people using the word ‘retard’ (or any variation thereof) really offends me, partly because I have friends with learning difficulties, but also because they see my wheelchair and automatically assume that I’m not clever; when I’m currently in the second year of my undergraduate degree. It’s the same with words like ‘dumb’, because this actually refers to the inability to speak, having nothing whatsoever to do with intellectual capacity, and my best friend doesn’t take kindly to her speech impairment being associated with stupidity. I hope we can soon get to the point where people don’t use words in a derogatory way around disability, and when it is understood that it’s just as hurtful to be called a ‘spastic’ as it is to be abused regarding your sex or race. I’ll definitely take the pledge. Thanks.

    • Hannah Taylor

      Hi Jessi,
      Thank you for your thoughtful comment.
      I think we can all make an effort to choose our words more wisely.
      There is no reason or excuse for anyone to use words that are harmful to others.
      It is important to shine light on these words so people can eliminate them from there vocabularies.
      x Hannah

  • Beth Gaughan

    to post a comment

  • Aysha Sparks

    Brilliant article, thank you so much! Hopefully one day disabilism will be taken as seriously as racism and sexism. Use of offensive words can and do lead to hate crime so it’s really important to raise awareness like this!

    • Hannah Taylor

      Let’s word to end hate and spread love.

  • Amanda Louise Renteria

    I completely agree thank you for bringing this up. My little cousin has special needs and I’m absolutly outraged every time I hear someone use that word. I’m going to make the pledge and spread the word.

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