Using the word “retard” is part of our language. It’s slang for dumb, stupid, moron, idiot, fool. It’s just a word — no offense meant. Okay, I understand.
But I also ask you to try to understand that using this word perpetuates a negative stereotype. When you say it to your buddies, it’s a slap in the face of every person who actually lives with a mental disability. Yup, truly it’s just a word but if you know it’s offensive to a whole bunch of people who live, work and play really hard to do most of the things you find easy to do — maybe it’s a word you can live without. Maybe it’s a word you’re willing to delete from your vocabulary, just because you’re a decent person who understands life is difficult enough when you have Down’s Syndrome (or any other number of mental disabilities).
There really isn’t anything funny about being “special” (when you are referring to a person with a disability) or “retarded” — it’s actually a road full of challenges, at best. I love a good laugh as much as the next person, just not at the expense of another. Having three kids with disabilities, I can tell you that we have shared a lot of laughs, tears and heartache.
Honestly, your choice NOT to use this offensive word, will make a difference to ME. You won’t cure any of my kids’ disabilities with this request, but you will begin to help make this a more accepting and inclusive world. A world where we all can feel okay about who we are, no matter what.