Spread the Word to End the Word
Tuesday, March 31, 2009 has been declared "Spread the Word to End the Word" Day. This grassroots effort by high school and college students with and without disabilities aims to raise the consciousness of society about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the R-word ("Retard"). Everyone is encouraged to make a pledge to stop using this word. We have all heard the R-word used to refer to individuals who have intellectual disabilities, and also as a casual insult or dismissal of another person. While we may not consider this word to be hate language, it is actually very hurtful to those who do have intellectual disabilities, and is no more acceptable than the use of racial, cultural, or other stereotypical slurs. While language certainly reflects attitudes, language also shapes attitudes, so respectful language is not only politically correct, it is essential to overcoming inaccurate and cruel misconceptions. Members of the Heartland Down Syndrome Association urge everyone to learn more about this issue, take the pledge, and make an effort to utilize more respectful and inclusive language when referring to all individuals. Information, including the pledge, is available at www.r-word.org.