All the time growing up I heard terms like, “That is so retarded” and “He’s such a retard” all the time. Most of the time I spoke out, saying that anyone who would that word in passing clearly does not know it’s meaning. Each and every time I cringed. Now, at 40, it saddens me that these ignorant statements are still being made daily, by both kids and their parents.
Mental retardation is a clinical term that doctors use to describe people with significant medical intellectual impairment. My sister was mentally retarded. She was born severe medical intellectual (and physical) impairment.
My sister was disabled. She was not stupid.
No, it is not okay to use the r-word to describe someone or something stupid. As parents it is not okay to use the r-word in front of our kids or to let them use it in passing. It is not just an expression. The r-word is hurtful. It is mean. It is ignorant. And it has to end.
In 2010, President Barack Obama signed a bill into federal law removing the words “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from federal health, education and labor policy, replacing them with “individual with an intellectual disability” and “intellectual disability.” Rosa’s Law, inspired by 9-year-old Rosa Marcellino, signifies the taking back of dignity, inclusion and respect for all people with intellectual disabilities.
The government is doing their part. Now we have to do ours. On Wednesday, March 6th, you can do your part to spread the word to end the word by pledging and supporting the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promoting the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. Click here to take the pledge.
Let’s put an end to the ignorance. Spread the word to end the word. Won’t you?