"My Words Matter" Pledge
Hi! My name is Jenna Glatzer, and
I'm a writer. That means I love words. But there's one word that
really hurts me, and that's the word "retard."
See, my brother has Down syndrome,
which means he's retarded. "Retarded" isn't a bad word when you use it
right: It means slow to learn. My brother learns a little slower
than most people.
But a lot of people use the words
"retarded" or "retard" to mean stupid. Sometimes
people say it to be mean, and other times they're just kidding
around... but it's not funny to people like my brother and me.
Maybe you've heard it at school--
like when someone trips or makes a silly mistake and someone else
says, "You're such a retard!" Even if the person says it
with a smile or laugh, it's still not funny. It's hurtful.
Imagine your name is Kelly, and
one day, people decided to use the word "Kelly" to mean
"gross." "Yuck! This food tastes so Kelly!"
Wouldn't you want them to stop using your name like that?
Maybe you're older and you've
heard people use that word at work, or at parties, or in stores. You
probably know what that word really means, but you don't stop to
think about how much it can hurt people with disabilities.
So that's why I'm starting this
My brother is the coolest person I
know. He's nice to everybody, and he can always make me laugh, even
if I'm feeling down. It hurts us when people use words like
"retard" and "retarded" in the wrong way,
because it makes him feel like they think he's stupid. He had to
work very hard-- harder than most people-- to learn how to read,
write, play the piano, and use the computer. He has graduated from
high school and works at a nursing home. He deserves to be
respected, not insulted.
There are a lot of people like my
brother in the world-- people who have Down syndrome and other
disabilities-- and I bet that if you met them, you'd like
them, too. You wouldn't want to hurt their feelings or call them
That's why I'd like you to make a
promise: You won't use the word "retard," and you won't
say "retarded" when you mean "stupid." And
you'll try to remember to pay attention when other people say it and
ask them to stop, too.
Your words matter a lot. What you
say can make people feel good or bad. If you care about people's
feelings and would like to take this pledge, please visit here:
You can sign your name and write
comments if you like. Thank you for taking the pledge!
If you know other people who might
be interested, I hope you'll pass this link to them and encourage
them to sign, too. People often don't realize that there's anything
wrong with words like "retard" and "retarded"
until someone explains to them how hurtful it can be.
Lots of people also write to us to
tell us what they think about the pledge. We're starting to collect
the letters here,
if you'd like to read them.
Jenna Glatzer and Paul Glatzer
Please feel free to write to Jenna if you
have comments for the "letters" page." You can reach