Even before Parker was born, the r-word wasn’t allowed in our home. I was taught from a very young age that people with disabilities, especially intellectual disabilities didn’t need to have the same experiences on earth as I did. That, in fact, these most amazing spirits give us the opportunity to prove who we are, deep within our hearts, simply by how we choose to treat them.
My 16 year old high school student sits in a seminary class where ‘that’s so retarded’ is often heard coming from the teacher’s mouth.
My 21 year old sat through an English class where her instructor couldn’t understand why this word was so offensive, even after my daughter tried to explain it to him and share with him her life as an older sister to a little boy with Down syndrome.
Another son works in an environment were this one word that causes so much damage is thrown around as an explanation for any dumb, stupid or brainless activity.
I’ve had people tell me that it’s no big deal. Because, you know, they didn’t mean Parker.
I reject this argument. Vehemently.
The use of the r-word perpetuates a disturbing stereotype of all people with intellectual disabilities. Even if you didn’t mean Parker. It sends a message that kids like Parker are of less value. The justified butt of any joke. A person who is undeserving of respect.
The r-word has been classified as hate speech.
When children hear parents use this word to describe their latest blunder or misstep, they take it to heart. It gives them permission to tell the little girl with Down syndrome to Go away! You’re Weird! when hoping to join in the fun at the playground.
A person of less worth. One who doesn’t have to be treated with respect simply because she’s different….just like Parker.
Need one beautiful reason to quit using the r-word….TODAY? Here it is:
Our words do make a difference. Even when someone didn’t mean it in that way.