Tuesday, 05 June 2012
Guest post from Elizabeth at www.rockabyeparents.com
As society has changed so has our vocabulary. Eventually we wizen up and realize that certain terms that had been acceptable are actually cruel and should no longer be used. Of course such things never change overnight, and there are always those that continue to use the terms.
“Retarded” is one such word. As an educator I cringe at even the thought of this word. Many years ago this word, taken from mental retardation, was used to refer to people who had disabilities. It was used during a time when we were farm more ignorant of such disabilities and it was used to refer to a person that had any type of one (since at the time specific ones weren’t classified). Eventually it became derogatory slang that was used to refer to people or things that the speaker thought was stupid.
As we advanced into the 90’s though, great strides were made with classifying disabilities. We started to see that someone with a disability wasn’t stupid or retarded. Instead we started to see that they had a learning disability, or a cognitive impairment, or Autism. As these distinctions started to be made we realized how hurtful the use of the word “retarded” was and slowly over time it because unacceptable and disappeared from our vocabularies (at least for most of us).
Fast forward to 2012, a Texas high school, Mesquite High, is compiling their yearbook. Someone has the idea to design a section that recognizes the kids in the school that have special needs. From there things go terribly wrong.
The other day when the student body received their yearbooks the section highlighting the special needs students was there. Part of the page said: ‘Some of the disabilities the students in the Special Education Program have are being blind, deaf or non-verbal…(students’ names) are both blind, deaf as well as mentally retarded.’
Not surprisingly this passage sent the community into an uproar. Such language is in no way acceptable and many felt that the section did nothing more than point fingers and single out the students with special needs. The big question though is how did such wording manage to be approved and sent to the printers? A teacher should have overseen the whole process, and it is shocking that they allowed it.
My guess is that the student who thought up the section was just trying to show that the students with special needs are an important part of the school. Had the page been tastefully done, with politically correct language, then that message might have come across.
To correct the mistake the school has demanded that all students turn their yearbooks back in so that the mistake can be fixed. The principal has also said that he will personally call and apologize to the families of the students that were named on the page.
Read the entire article HERE.
What would your reaction be if you saw such a section in your child's yearbook?