What to Say When You Hear the R-Word

Fans of Special Olympics know that the r-word is hurtful and shouldn’t be used. But what do you do when your friend, daughter or coworker says the word? You open your mouth to say something but stop because it’s awkward or you don’t know what to say. You tell yourself that they’re not directing the word at someone with intellectual disabilities, so it’s not as bad.

But the r-word hurts every time. Here are some helpful ways to help spread the word to end the word!

With a Friend:

“Dude, that word is uncool and hurts.”


“I know you probably didn’t mean to use that word as an insult, but I’d appreciate if you didn’t. It hurts people to hear it, including me.”

Parent/Teacher to Child:

“The word ‘retard’ is very hurtful. People say it so often now that it’s almost become a trend, they think it’s funny. But the bottom line is…it’s not. It has a negative meaning, it degrades people and it shouldn’t be said at all.

People judge you by your words as well as your actions. That’s why it’s important to always watch what you say and do. Use words with grace to build people up, and people will always remember you as someone with good character and treat you the same way.”

What the Internet Says:

We also polled our Facebook fans to see how they handle this situation. Here’s a summary of their suggestions!

“I used to tell my students that everyone has disabilities. There are many things I can’t do, like rock climbing, surfing, etc. So with that being said, we only focus on what we can do!”

“We’re teaching my daughter to speak up in a civil manner rather than getting in a rage about it. I love that she’s not afraid to call people out on their insensitivity, but it’s important to be calm.”

“When someone says, what a ‘r-word,’ I say, ‘My special needs big brother can do that. Perhaps that guy was just clumsy. And you should watch your language.’”

“I correct them right away. That word is not in our vocabulary.”

“I tell them to stop using that word because it does offend me and my friends.”

Make a Difference With Your Cover Photo

Help spread the word to end the word by sharing this Facebook cover photo! Click here then right click on the photo and save to your desktop. We’ve got lots more free downloads on this page!

How do you handle someone using the r-word?

For more information on how you can help spread the word to end the word, click here!

To take the pledge to end the r-word, click here!


One thought on “What to Say When You Hear the R-Word

  1. Pingback: Five Easy Things You Can Do to End the R-Word | Our Unified Schools

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