“Oh, I didn’t mean it THAT way…” is a phrase commonly associated with the word retarded. People don’t intend to offend others by saying it because it so commonly said not only in the media, but in the hallways of FHS itself; and many other high schools across the nation. It has become such a natural and common word to replace stupid, idiotic, or gay that individuals don’t even recognize what they are saying is a offensive and derogatory term.
Wednesday, March 5th 2014 is national Spread the Word to End the Word day. STWTETW is a campaign that encourages people to stop the use of the ‘R’ word (retarded) by informing people of its real meaning. The definition of retarded according to google is: less advanced in mental, physical, or social development than is usual for one’s age. Yet this words meaning has changed throughout the years into slang for, stupid/slow/idiotic when describing friends and others. At one point the term ‘mental retardation’ was used by doctors to describe people with intellectual/ cognitive disabilities. But now, this word has been phased out in the medical world and is now referred to as an intellectual disability. It is time for others to stop using this degrading word because it hurts and dehumanizes those with disabilities and their families. This word makes light of a large population of the world that aren’t always able to defend themselves and its up to those that can, to speak up and do something about it.
So, what can you do?
First off stop using the word, but most importantly inform others that is not okay to call yourself or others a retard(ed). Next sign the pledge online at http://www.r-word.org/r-
word-pledge.aspx. Best Buddies is an integral part of supporting STWTETW. You can also show your support with a paint handprint or simply signing your name on the banner in the cafeteria this week. Anyone interested in Best Buddies can join at any time throughout the year by signing up online at https://www. bestbuddiesonline.org/ and attending activities twice a month.
When the “r” word is used, it limits the dignity and respect people with intellectual disabilities want and most importantly deserve. Most go through struggles everyday that we all take for granted, yet they are stronger than many that use this word will ever be. Therefore, it is just human decency to give them the regard of not using this derogatory language, even if it is not directly aimed at them.