The “r” Word Campaign

When You Say “Retard” Someone Hurts

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Soeren Palumbo and Special Olympics announce “Spread the Word to End the Word” Awareness Day

Posted by stopsayingretard on March 8, 2009

Spread the Word to End the Word

Spread the Word To End the Word 3-31-09

Spread the Word To End the Word Awareness Day

It is time to “Spread the Word to End the Word” and on 31 March 2009 Special Olympics is calling for a national day of awareness for America to stop and think about their use of the R-word. That R-word is not “recession,” but something more hurtful and painful – “retard.”  

Most people don’t think of this word as hate speech, but that’s exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual disabilities, their families and friends. This word is just as cruel and offensive as any other slur.

Spread the Word to End the Word will raise the consciousness of society about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the R-word and encourage people to pledge to stop using it.  America will be asked to declare their support for more respectful and inclusive language, specifically that referring to those with intellectual disabilities.

Created by young people with and without intellectual disabilities, Spread the Word to End the Word is one element of Special Olympics’ vision of a world where everyone matters, where everyone is accepted and, most importantly, where everyone is valued. Leading the way in promoting acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities, Special Olympics opposes prejudice and discrimination, continuously working to dispel the negative stereotypes associated with this population — the use of the R-word being one such stereotype. In a world that has worked to eliminate pejorative racial and ethnic language such as the “N word,” among others, the R-word is gaining popularity.

On 31 March, young people across the country will lead local efforts to raise awareness and among peers and the community to vow not to use the R-word. Actor and activist John C. McGinley, of the hit show “Scrubs,” is helping with this effort by making national media appearances on behalf of the campaign. On 2 March 2009, he appeared on “The Bonnie Hunt Show.”

“Spread The Word to End The Word” Day resouces, follow this link:

Feel free to use the following Sample Proclamation in announcing a “Spread the Word to End the Word” Awareness day for your community or state:


WHEREAS, according to the 2005 U.S. Census Bureau, 604,245 Oklahomans, 19.0% age 5 and over, have some form of disability; and

WHEREAS, people with disabilities constitute our nation’s largest minority group, almost one in five; and

WHEREAS, this group is also the most inclusive and most diverse group: all ages, genders, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic levels are represented; and

WHEREAS, when the words “retard” or “retarded” are used without thinking to mean something stupid or bad it is hurtful to people who have disabilities and the people who love them; and

WHEREAS, it perpetuates prejudice and discrimination towards people with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, this word is just as cruel and offensive as any other slur or hate speech;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BRAD HENRY, Governor of the State of Oklahoma, (OR YOUR MAYOR, CITY OFFICIAL OR PRINCIPAL) do hereby proclaim

March 31, 2009, as

“Spread the Word to End The “r” Word Day” in the State of Oklahoma, and encourage all Oklahomans to Spread the Word throughout their communities and schools encourage everyone to stop saying the “r” word.


One Response to “Soeren Palumbo and Special Olympics announce “Spread the Word to End the Word” Awareness Day”

  1. Tonya said

    My brother has Down Syndrome and being the bigger over protective sister that word has been a thorn in my side for years. I am 46 and he is 42. I saw the Bonnie Hunt show about this subject and have been searching since then for the shirt that was worn on the show that day. I thank those who have put this movement together and I hope this changes the vocabualry of at least a few people! That would be a great start!

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