I can remember the last time I called anything or anyone retarded. It was in 2006, during my first year at Queen’s. I never thought anything of it but my floormate (who would later become my housemate and now bridesmaid) let me know in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t OK. I originally brushed it off, but her repeated (light) smacks across my arm whenever I used it served as a deterrence.
As someone who frequently volunteered with the developmentally, intellectually and physically disabled, I thought I had a pass, so to speak. I respected those people and I wasn’t using the term in a way that was meant to be derogatory towards them. I now know how wrong that was and continues to be.
Even when your use of the word is not meant to be an affront to those with intellectual disabilities, it can bring back painful memories for those affected. From playground taunts to adult discrimination, the use of the R word can make the intellectually disabled – and their families, friends and allies – feel unwelcome. Swap out this word for something that accurately describes what you’re feeling instead of leaning on a word that will only make others feel bad.
Take the pledge along with thousands of other Canadians today for the launch of the YELLOWCARD campaign in support of motionball and the Special Olympics. Because there’s #nogoodway to say the R-word.