Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oklahoma students try for pledge to end R-word

From KTUL-TV in Tulsa, Okla.:

JENKS, Okla. -- Years ago, it was okay to call a person "mentally retarded". But, not today. It's politically incorrect. So now, a group of local students wants to get rid of the "R" word altogether at school.

At Jenks Freshman Academy, they are asking everyone to sign their name on a pledge to end the "R" word.

The incredibly popular song "Let's Get It Started" by the Black Eyed Peas was initially "Let's Get Retarded." But, the group switched the words because the "R" word was, and is, offensive to a lot of people.

"I don't want to hear my friends say it because I don't say it," says Jessica Washington. "And maybe if I don't say it, they won't say it and if they don't say it, the people they talk to won't say it."

Jessica is a freshman, encouraging students to sign the pledge. She works with 30 Special Olympics students, including Asher Ward, who hates the term.

"That would make me feel very disappointed," he says. "I didn't want to say that either and I heard some people said that."

The students are hoping to erase the word retarded for good.

"It started as not a bad word," says Special Education Teacher Jennifer Roberts. "And then people have made it something it's not fitting for. These students, they have a lot of abilities instead of disabilities."

They are bringing attention -- the "R" word is a bad word -- and to use it would be as the abusive slang term implies, dumb or stupid.

Once the banner is full of signatures, the students will have it laminated and hang it up so no one forgets that the "R" word is off limits.

Dozens of organizations have changed the term "mental retardation" to "intellectual disability". Lawmakers in Washington could make it a federal law this spring.