Fighting to end the "R word" - FOX 13 News

Fighting to end the "R word"

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Tackling the "R word" is a nationwide movement.  Organizers want to spread the word to end the use of word everywhere, starting with the Florida state legislature.

 Marcy Donohue is on board.  Her 44-year old daughter was born with down syndrome. 

 Over the years she's heard her child called some names that make this mother's blood boil - namely, the "R word."

 "I know it just means slow, but that's not what we think of our guys.  We think of our guys as giving the best that they can and everything they have. Yes, it offends me," Donohue said.

 The word retarded was originally a diagnosis.

 "When the word retarded was used in the 50s it was used just for that, to declare someone as a disability. We know now that if someone uses that word it turns in to something very demeaning," said Karen Higgens, President of PARC.

 Organizations like PARC, which had the actual word in its name in the 1950s, now eliminate the word.  Others have been speaking out before state leaders in Tallahassee asking them to eliminate all references to mental retardation in state law.

 "Some people may feel bullied or dismayed in a way. We just want to show them that they have better ways of coping with the situation," said Moira Rossi.

 The "R word" is being fought online, too, with bloggers like Madonna Mama reaching out to stop the "R word."

 Sara Madonna is sharing photos of her own child, asking you to imagine saying something so demeaning to a child unduly defined.

 Just ask Donohue how it feels.

 "How many times I've heard oh, there's that cute little down's girl.  That's not what (my daughter) Deborah is. That's what Deborah has," she said.

 Her mother describes her differently.

 "She's a very caring, thoughtful, sweet young lady and I've often thought that if everyone had those qualities we'd have a much better world," she said.

 Locally the campaign is led by a group called the ARC of Florida, which advocates for people with intellectual disabilities.      

 The "R word" has already been removed from federal government's vocabulary.

 President Obama signed the bill making it law back in 2010.


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