BREWER, Maine — There are certain hurtful words used to describe people with an intellectual disability that should have no place at Brewer High School, said Brewer School Committee student representative Megan Pike.
Pike and others at Brewer High School are hosting a “ Spread The Word To End The Word” event on Wednesday, March 6, to eliminate the use of the derogatory term “retarded.” Participating students will be able to sign a pledge banner and promote mutual respect, she said.
“We just want to raise awareness,” said Pike, who is a junior. “The word — it’s really offensive.”
The campaign was started by college students in 2009 and now has been taken over by Special Olympics and Best Buddies, the Spread The Word To End The Word group’s website states. It aligns with federal legislation signed by President Barack Obama in October 2010, dubbed Rosa’s Law, that removed all references to “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from national policies and replaced them with “individual with an intellectual disability” and “intellectual disability.”
Brewer High students, teachers and staff also are dropping off personal pictures that feature community members with an intellectual disability for a slideshow that will run in the principal’s office throughout the school day on March 6, special education ed tech Kim Kelley said.
Involved students, including Pike, already have made and are wearing pins advertising the campaign. Brewer is following in the footsteps of other Maine schools, including 10 that held their own “Spread The Word To End The Word Day” events this year.
People outside the school also can sign the anti-slur pledge by going to the event’s website, r-word.org. Brewer High teacher Suzette Pelletier signed the online pledge on Feb. 12. Those who have photos to share can call Pelletier at Brewer High School, 989-4140.