By now, all of us have seen, heard, or read about Representative John Rogers’ remarks regarding the abortion bill before the legislature. and hopefully, all of us have also seen, heard, or read about his apology for the use of the “R” word to describe the President’s son. Thank you, Rep. Rogers, for realizing your mistake and for owning up to it. You recognize that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are real people with real feelings who deserve to be treated with the same respect as everyone else.
Our hope is that this incident serves as an educational reminder for all of the public as to the hurtful nature of that word to the entire I/DD community. It’s a reminder of all the schoolyard taunts and hallway snickers. It harkens back to the decades of mass institutionalization, when people with I/DD were treated like animals, and worse.
Every minority group recognizes those descriptions as having applied to them, in one degree or another, at some time in the past (or present) as they strove to assimilate into the general society. The I/DD constituency is no different. They long to be active and contributing members of their communities. They are real people with a real desire to be treated with the same respect and dignity as everyone else.
To people with I/DD, the “R” word is an “N” word. Treat it that way.