As of this morning, nearly 159,000 people have taken a pledge that can help my daughter and other children and adults in our community who have intellectual disabilities, and which can help end bullying.
They have pledged to… “support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.”
The pledge is part of the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign which is supported by more than 200 organizations, and was started in conjunction with Best Buddies and the Special Olympics.
Today marks the third annual Spread the Word to End the Word day – its goal is to end the derogatory use of the words retard and retarded. This campaign isn’t about censorship, it’s about raising awareness so that those with intellectual disabilities – mental retardation – are treated with respect and valued in our society.
While mental retardation refers to a medical condition, retard and retarded have become synonyms for the words foolish or stupid – which are really the last thing those with intellectual disabilities are.
And here is the part that goes right over most people's heads – when you casually fling out “you’re so retarded” you aren’t insulting the person you’re addressing; you’re insulting every person whose medical records have ever contained the diagnosis mental retardation.
You are in essence calling my daughter stupid or foolish and I don’t know too many mothers who would take all that kindly to that.
I also believe pretty strongly that as adults we need to teach our children through example. Our kids hear us and repeat what they hear from parents, grandparents, older siblings and so our actions and words need to be how we want our children to act and speak.
Take a moment, think before you speak and realize the damage words can do and if you’re ready to step up and make a change then sign the pledge to Spread the Word to End the Word.
And if you want to see how frequently the word is used (and how people react to being asked not to use it), check out this blog – where one mom takes on the Twitterverse and gets some predictable and unpredictable results.