Spread the Word to End the Word By Paula Pederson, Superintendent
If you were to walk down the halls of our Hillsboro School or be on the playground at recess time it wouldn’t take you very long before you heard the word, “retard” being said. Our Hillsboro teaching staff does their best to get our students to use appropriate language in the school setting. We remind our students not to say “gay”, “faggot”, “retard”, curse words and many more phrases that are hurtful or inappropriate. At home I am telling my kids the same things. Kids are kids, but as parents we can raise our expectations.
On March 21st it is World Down Syndrome Day. The significance of this date (3/21) represents the 3 copies of chromosome 21, which is unique to people with Down syndrome. The aim of World Down Syndrome Day is to promote awareness and understanding, to achieve dignity, equal rights and a better life for people with Down syndrome everywhere. It is time we Spread the Word to End the Word™ and build awareness for society to stop and think about its use of the R-word. That R-word is something hurtful and painful. This word affects millions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families and friends.
By casually using the word “retarded” to refer to an action as less than ideal, you are making someone with an intellectual disability feel less than human – whether you mean to or not. Let’s make it stop. Visit the webpage www.r-word.org for more information.
In honor of World Down Syndrome Day, I am asking you to read this column to your own children and expect them to use a kinder vocabulary by eliminating the use of the R-word.