ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX47) – It’s known as the “R” word and when used derogatorily, the word is offensive to people suffering intellectual disabilities.
Wednesday, students at Mayo High school took the pledge to end the word.
“The R word is retard or retarded and originally mental retardation and mentally retarded were used in medical journals to describe people with intellectual disabilities,” said Mary Laudon, a Mayo High school Senior and leader of the campaign.
“The forms retard and retarded have been used derogatorily to offend people with intellectual disabilities.”
Students can stop by the “spread the word to end the word” booth and pledge to not say the “R word”. Following signing the pledge electronically, students can then sign the banner with their fellow pledgers.
The campaign hits home for Laudon, who coaches in the Special Olympics and has a brother with an intellectual disability.
“I think when people use this word either they are ignorant or they don’t understand people with intellectual disabilities are just like us. So when I’m coaching them on the basketball court or I’m watching a movie with my brother. I think people don’t see that part of the disability. They don’t see a person for a person they just see the disability when they see that word.” Said Laudon.
“So pledging not to use the ‘R word’ is more than not just saying it, it’s understanding that people with intellectual disabilities are more alike than different.”
Those who signed the pledge received stickers, wristbands and shirts saying “Respect: it starts with you”.