Just Don’t Say It: The R Word

The R word – it’s everywhere. Friends say it, it is on TV and the radio, it is included in “jokes”, it has become part of our vocabulary in the US … and it hurts. Just don’t say it.

The R Word

The R Word – retard(ed)

Why The R Word Hurts

It discriminates. People are expected to act a certain way where less is expected of them.

It is cruel.  It puts down people who feel pride about their accomplishments and have feelings just like anyone else. Families and friends hurt as well.

It is incorrect. Mental Retardation is an outdated term. Rosa’s law, signed in 2010, “removes the terms ‘mental retardation’ and ‘mentally retarded’ from federal health, education and labor policy and replaces them with people first language ‘individual with an intellectual disability’ and ‘intellectual disability.'”

It is hate speech. Plain and simple, using the R Word is meant to spread hatred.

The R Word Has Consequences

Some may wonder why ending the R Word is so important. After all it’s just a word. Lots of people say it out of ignorance. How can you remove a word from our common language?

This awful word puts people in a box that they feel they can’t get out of. It takes away hope. Think about when a child is labeled in school. They often live up to that label, even if it isn’t correct. It’s the same thing with the R Word.

The misconception of the R Word is that people with disabilities are stupid and unable to learn. This can lead to loss of opportunities.

It gives us a bad rap. A community that discriminates groups of people who are “born this way” can be described using some pretty awful terms.

How To End The R Word

Today, March 6th is Spread the Word to End The Word day. Take the pledge to end the word and learn more about this movement.

Speak up when others use the word. Although difficult, this can have a big effect.

Learn if your state has passed legislation to to stop using the R Word. If not, take action.

Spread the Word to End the Word by sharing this post and by using social media – R Word Campaign on Twitter and Spread the Word on Facebook.

This is a topic that means a great deal to me. I have friends and family members who have been called the R Word and have been hurt deeply because of it. Please make this a priority today and every day.

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Connie Roberts

Professional Blogger
Living in the Tampa Bay area, I'm lucky enough to see beautiful sunsets almost every day. Although life can be difficult at times, focusing on the positive and being with my family is what gets me through.

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  1. Personally, I’ve had to catch myself before saying the R word. When we were younger, we said it often, because mental illness wasn’t really known to everyone. However, it’s a word we don’t want our children to grow up saying!

  2. The one thing I miss about teaching is not doing this with my kids this year. We always sat down and discussed the importance of the words we choose.
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  3. I can’t stand when people use the r word. It’s ridiculous that it is still used in this way and I’m glad you wrote this post to bring awareness to this.

  4. I credit my mom with for encouraging us as kids to see people with disabilities and delays for who they were. We never used the R word to describe a person (though I’m sure as kids we threw the word around at each other as an insult). “Retarded” is a word or description that is used to mask the individual. It doesn’t belong in our language as a serious term or a slang word.
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  5. Although I heard the word in my childhood, I honestly haven’t heard it in years and years so I’m hoping that we are gradually removing it permanently!
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  6. I was just talking to a student about not using this word today.

  7. I honestly never say the r word.
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  8. I haven’t heard or used the “r” word in years. Hopefully it is leaving the English language.
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  9. With a background in special education, I’ve been against using the r word for sometime now. I won’t let my students use it and they learn that real quick. I also don’t tolerate it from people close to me. I’m glad you are taking the time to highlight this.
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  10. I would be happy to spread the word on such an important campaign.
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  11. i couldnt agree more; the R word must be stopped.
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  12. I will never say that word, ever. Thanks for sharing this.
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