Women’s History Month 2012: “Do you use the ‘R’ word?”

So I had a post written and ready to go for today’s continuation of the Women’s History Month series. That was until this entry came across my newsfeed last night. The entry above, “Do you use the ‘R’ word?” is written by a woman so filled with compassion and courage that she was moved to write this post in defense of not only her son, but children everywhere who share his experience. I am humbled to have even had the opportunity to read such a moving story. Celebrate the differences of everyone by choosing more appropriate language. Words can, and do, hurt.


We’ve all heard of the “n” word. Have you heard of the “r” word? “Retard.” “Retarded.” My skin crawls with each repetition, and the discomfort matches the ache in my heart. I’ve used the word. I recall it was one of the more popular retorts in elementary school.  “What are you, retarded?” “Retard!” We didn’t know. I didn’t know better. How I wish I could turn back time and be that progressive little girl who knew enough to say, “STOP!  That’s not a nice word!”

Why do those memories hurt me so much? Why am I writing about a word?  Today is national Spread the Word to End the Word Day, and I need to explain why that matters.  But let me back up for a moment, to the beginning of my love story.

When I met my husband, we had both turned the corner on old. (He…

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