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"Spread the Word to End the R-Word"

Piedmont students and staff participated in Spread the Word to End the Word, which took place on Wednesday, March 2nd.  This is an annual day that makes teachers and students more aware of the words they use.   The R-word, “retard,” is slang for the term mental retardation. Mental retardation was what doctors, psychologists, and other professionals used to describe people with significant intellectual impairment. Today the r-word has become a common word used by society as an insult for someone or something stupid. Why does the R-word hurt? The R-word hurts because it is exclusive. It’s offensive. It’s derogatory. The R-word is hate speech

According to R-word.org, when they were originally introduced, the terms “mental retardation” or “mentally retarded” were medical terms with a specifically clinical connotation; however, the forms, “retard” and “retarded” have been used widely in today’s society to degrade and insult people with intellectual disabilities. Additionally, when “retard” and “retarded” are used as synonyms for “dumb” or “stupid” by people without disabilities, it only reinforces painful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities being less valued members of humanity.  This day of awareness has indeed had an impact on American society. On October 5, 2010, President Barack Obama officially signed bill S. 2781 into federal law. Rosa’s Law, which takes its name and inspiration from 9-year-old Rosa Marcellino, removes the terms “mental retardation” and "mentally retarded" from federal health, education and labor policy and replaces them with the verbiage “individual with an intellectual disability” and “intellectual disability.” The signing of Rosa’s Law is a significant milestone in establishing dignity, inclusion and respect for all people with intellectual disabilities.
Posters are displayed around the Piedmont campus and teachers are encouraged to discuss this topic in their classes on Wednesday, March 2.  Junior Jamie Thomas speaks passionately about the importance of this day of awareness, “I have a little sister with special needs and I am very protective of her. It makes me feel good when people do not use that word around her or around me. I am proud that our school recognizes that using the R- word carelessly is inappropriate.”  Join Jamie and the entire Piedmont community in ‘spreading the word to end the word’. Additional information can be found at www.r-word.org.

Written by: Donna Helms, Web Editor
Posted: Feb 24, 2011 by Donna Helms

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