Forcing the R-Word out of the Classroom

Caruso students join national effort to strike down derogatory term for the mentally disabled.

Fat, ugly, stupid, queer and gay are just a few of the nasty words that float around middle school classrooms. But students at are focused on eliminating another term from their vocabulary.     

In an effort to strip hallways of the common phrase “retarded” the District 109 facility has joined other schools across the country in becoming a R-Word Free Zone, part of a national campaign to redefine the public image of people with mental disabilities. 

“A lot of people end up going with it and think it’s acceptable,” Caruso Middle School teacher Julie Witczak said. “But it’s not acceptable. It’s really the only group of people that can’t defend themselves.”

Signs have been posted, T-shirts have been printed and hands have been stamped in an attempt to abolish the use of the disparaging word from everyday language and make those who say it aware of their usage.

“Three-hundred and eighty six people, including parents, teachers and students, pledged to discontinue the use of that word in their own vocabulary and to stop other people from saying it,” Witczak said about the effort. “I think the earlier you can instill the right choices, the better kids will be in the world later.”


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