Opinion: We Need to Stop Using the R-Slur


The symbol of Autism Acceptance month shows the allegience between the neurodivergent and neurotypical community.

April is Autism Acceptance Month, and we should use it as an opportunity to become more educated on Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The goal of Autism Acceptance Month is not to change who people are, but to celebrate what makes them special. According to CDC’s Autism and Development Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, about one in 54 children has Autism Spectrum Disorder. The spectrum is the term used to describe the broad range of ways autism can present itself amongst people. 

Student Services’ Dr. Renea Yates thinks that this month is a time to create positive change at the school. 

“Bringing awareness is important because it helps to educate students and helps to foster empathy. It also helps to reduce any stigma associated with any of the disorders.”

In particular, the desensitization of the “r” slur is a notable issue in society and extremely present in the Benjamin Upper School community. Insensitivity is often due to lack of exposure, so by bringing awareness to the subject, we can hopefully progress and move from hurtful and derogatory language. 

Most people do not even realize why it is offensive. In a recent discussion in one of my classes, someone declared the R-slur isn’t used to be offensive to neurodiverse people, it is just a term to express their frustration with something they deem as “stupid.” 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “retarded” as Offensive: slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development.” The negative stereotypes that persist as the use of this word continues is harmful to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and prolongs incorrect perceptions. 

Though many people may find this important cause trivial in context of the amount of words that are deemed offensive by society, it is important to create an environment that is helpful and supportive for all people. The Pharcyde encourages all Benjamin students to use less hateful speech and speak up when others are saying something offensive. 

“I hope our students take the time to learn about a variety of disorders,” Dr. Yates said. “As I tell my students in AP Psych, individuals with disorders are all around us, they are our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers. They are our friends, our colleagues, our partners, our employees, It is important to know how best to connect, relate, empathize, support, empower, etc. Awareness makes us better….. better citizens, better humans.”

Feel free to visit the Special Olympics organization’s campaign at https://www.spreadtheword.global/, where people can take the pledge to stop using the R-word.