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Tennesseans "Spread the Word to End the Word"

PHOTO: Matthew Drumright is asking people across Tennessee and the nation to take time today to stop and think about how their words may affect others. Photo credit: Matthew Drumright
PHOTO: Matthew Drumright is asking people across Tennessee and the nation to take time today to stop and think about how their words may affect others. Photo credit: Matthew Drumright
March 5, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Today is "Spread the Word to End the Word" day, an effort in Tennessee and nationwide to get people to stop using the word "retarded."

People need to be aware of the real harms of derogatory language like the "R-word," said Joanne Drumright, senior director of field service for the Special Olympics in Tennessee.

"In today's world," she said, "so many youth and young adults use that word in everyday conversation, not realizing what they're saying and not realizing the hurt that it causes."

According to the Tennessee Disability Coalition, 1 million people in the state are living with disabilities. Among them is Drumright's son Matthew, 30, who will speak to students at Brentwood High School this Friday about the pain use of the "R-word" can bring - despite the old saying about sticks and stones.

"If people are making fun of us, if people say the 'R-word,' it hurts them really bad, and their families too," he said.

Another part of the effort has seen the "R-word" removed from U.S. laws and code and replaced with the terms "cognitive or intellectual disability." Some states already have changed their language as well, and similar efforts are ongoing in Tennessee.

More information and resources can be found online at r-word.org and at IDaction.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TN