Opinion

The “R-Word”

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That “R” Word

“That’s retarded!”

How many times have you said that or heard someone say it? Probably a lot right? It is one of those casual insults that people often throw at each other without thinking about it…but let’s think about it!

The word “retarded” was originally used in medical scenarios. People with developmental disabilities or delays were referred to as “mentally retarded”.  Even within the medical community the word is not used anymore. In 2010, a law was passed called “Rosa’s Law” to eliminate all use of the phrase and instead it was replaced with “mental disability” or “an individual with a mental disability.” 

In 2019, individuals with special needs are not looked at in the same way they were long ago.  We now see actors with Down’s Syndrome, autism and other mental disabilities, being open about their conditions as well as proud of them.  

As bigger strides are made in the special needs’ world, there are constant reminders of a darker time by using such a hurtful word to describe someone. Imagine you are in a swimming race. You jump in the water with all of your peers, but you have a weight strapped to you weighing you down. Everyone is passing you by, and instead of helping you, or encouraging you…they just laugh or ignore the fact that you are struggling. The words you use make a bigger impact on people than you may think. Here are some stories from other people about why they personally hate the word and how its use has affected them: http://staging.r-word.org

There are so many other options to use instead.  Here’s a list to reference just in case you need it:  https://www.verywellfamily.com/substitutes-for-the-r-word-3105656

The “R-word,” the “N-word,” “That’s so gay.” What do all of those phrases have in common? They hurt someone. So next time you are joking around with your friends, try to pick a different word. Join the movement to end the R-Word.

About Amanda Senters

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