NCS Newspaper

It’s time to stop saying “retarded”

Senior+Taylor+Bourgeois+stands+with+his+cousins+Dustin+Gary+%28middle%29+and+Cameron+Gary+%28right%29+at+the+Up+21+Down+Syndrome+Awareness+Walk+on+Saturday%2C+March+24.
Back to Article
Back to Article

It’s time to stop saying “retarded”

Senior Taylor Bourgeois stands with his cousins Dustin Gary (middle) and Cameron Gary (right) at the Up 21 Down Syndrome Awareness Walk on Saturday, March 24.

Senior Taylor Bourgeois stands with his cousins Dustin Gary (middle) and Cameron Gary (right) at the Up 21 Down Syndrome Awareness Walk on Saturday, March 24.

Photo Courtesy of Lance Bourgeois

Senior Taylor Bourgeois stands with his cousins Dustin Gary (middle) and Cameron Gary (right) at the Up 21 Down Syndrome Awareness Walk on Saturday, March 24.

Photo Courtesy of Lance Bourgeois

Photo Courtesy of Lance Bourgeois

Senior Taylor Bourgeois stands with his cousins Dustin Gary (middle) and Cameron Gary (right) at the Up 21 Down Syndrome Awareness Walk on Saturday, March 24.

Taylor Bourgeois, Staff Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Human language is a remarkable blessing. Not only does it allow us to precisely communicate with one another, but the vast potential of language keeps scholars progressively expanding dictionaries, adding words that apply as humanity evolves.

“Texting” is a word that never would be used twenty years ago, at least in the same context as it is used today. We’ve come up with thousands and thousands of words to connect in conversation, yet we keep using detrimental words like “retarded” (which will now be referred to as the “R-word” in this article) that negatively affect the reflection of the human race as a whole. I’ve heard my peers and even adults I respect use the word numerous times, but it is time to retire it.

I would also like to say before I make my points, that this is not to bash anyone whoever has used the word. I’ve used the word. I just believe that our generation has been failed in that we haven’t been educated on the actual meaning and connotation.

Back in August 2002, my cousin Dustin Gary was born. It was a miracle, in fact, since doctors declared he had less than a one-percent chance to live. To add onto that, Dustin was born with Down syndrome, when an individual has an extra copy of chromosome 21. This disability, along with many others, is no different than a person who has dyslexia, depression, or anxiety. Down syndrome just tends to be more obvious, due to a bigger difficulty of learning and a distinct facial appearance.

So what is wrong with saying the R-word? The word is most commonly used as a way to point out someone who has done something that can also be described as “dumb” or “stupid.” For example, if someone jumped off a roof and hurt themself, another person would then use the R-word to point out that was a “dumb” or “stupid” idea. It is treated as a synonym for the two.

According to Dictionary.com, the R-word is “characterized by a slowness or limitation in intellectual understanding and awareness, emotional development, academic progress, etc.” That definition is not the same as dumb (“lacking intelligence or good judgment”) or stupid (“lacking ordinary quickness and keenness of mind”). Not only is it offensive, but it actually does not make sense. I was able to learn more about this after I got to spend more time with Dustin and his family.

I lived in Wichita Falls, Texas for about my first fifteen years of life. Unfortunately, the long distance from Wichita Falls to Mandeville didn’t give me much of a chance to form a relationship with Dustin and his family. Sure, we saw them for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, but it was never more than a two or three day visit. Thankfully, since I moved to Covington in June of 2014, I have a much closer relationship with the Gary family, and especially Dustin. Once I turned eighteen, I was also able to work with Dustin as a part-time job, with a paycheck coming straight from the state as a part of Medicaid.

Working with Dustin, most often Monday-Thursday, has opened my eyes to Down syndrome and what it means for him. It limits a lot of opportunities most people are blessed to have, but the quality-of-life is exactly the same as any other person.

Dustin is not dumb, and he is not stupid. Neither is anyone else with a disability of any kind.

The definition states that there is a limitation in “academic progress,” which is true. While he struggles in school subjects like reading and math (which honestly, a lot of us do), it does not mean he isn’t smart. Dustin is extremely clever. He knows when I pick him up from school and play music, that I will change the song if there is a curse word. It was not until a few weeks had passed that I realized he would say “bad word” not because the song had a curse word in it, but because he was able to figure out that him saying “bad word” would cause me to skip a song he didn’t like. I got played.

Along with being clever, Dustin is very caring. Not long ago, I picked him up after a pretty bad day. I didn’t obviously portray myself as being down, but he picked up that something was wrong, and asked if I was okay. After asking me twenty different questions (he is very curious), he asked what I had for lunch. It was a very random question, but after I told him that I actually skipped lunch to work on homework, he immediately invited me to make myself a sandwich at his house. He may struggle socially in some ways, but he has a heart just like any of us.

Truthfully, Dustin is just like any other guy. He loves superheroes, with Batman being his favorite. So much so, he can recap any episode of the 1960s Batman TV show to near perfection. He also enjoys playing lots of video games, with the Lego-branded games being his particular favorite. He even downloaded Fortnite recently! Society has long looked at people with Down syndrome as inferior, but they have potential in line with anyone else.

I’m sick and tired of hearing the R-word being used in everyday language. Dustin has taught me so much, and to hear someone use the R-word absolutely hurts me, because that blatantly makes fun of someone I consider a best friend. Let’s stop using the R-word, and show respect to those who struggle more than us. In fact, let’s focus on another R-word instead: respect. We as humanity must work on showing respect to all people, and removing the R-word from our vocabulary is a step in the right direction.

About the Writer
Taylor Bourgeois, Staff Reporter

Taylor Bourgeois is currently a senior, attending his fourth year as a Wolverine. He is the Student Body Treasurer, along with also managing for the school's...

5 Comments

5 Responses to “It’s time to stop saying “retarded””

  1. Pastor Jeff on March 28th, 2018 4:23 pm

    Thank you, Taylor, for this article. My grandmother worked with Down Syndrome students in New Orleans my entire childhood. She would take me with her to work with them on different school sponsored events. I learned early on in my life that these were young men and women made in the image of God with eternal value…and she never permitted me to us the R-word.

  2. Pastor Jeff on March 28th, 2018 4:24 pm

    that would be a ‘use’ in the last sentence

  3. Betty Reinhard (aka Mere) on March 28th, 2018 5:02 pm

    Taylor, I knew you were extremely bright, however I had little inkling of your incredible writing ability. I’m looking forward eagerly to your near future and how things unfold at LSU. I loved your reference to Proverbs 11:11
    Aunt Liz sent me your e-mail. Now I have to show it to Pop.

    I love you,
    Mere

  4. Samantha on March 28th, 2018 8:45 pm

    Brilliant! As a mom of a super special girl I applaud your work to end the r-word. Thank you for putting to paper….screen….such a wonderful examples as to why it is insulting and hurtful. Again, well done!

  5. Charlene Kazan on March 29th, 2018 11:21 am

    Thank you for that message, Taylor!

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Left
  • It’s time to stop saying “retarded”

    Point of View

    My Nostalgic Thanksgiving Recipe: Lemon-Buttermilk Pie

  • It’s time to stop saying “retarded”

    Point of View

    What are your plans for this fall season?

  • It’s time to stop saying “retarded”

    Point of View

    OPINION: Why homework is actually hurting students instead of helping

  • Point of View

    What are your expectations for homecoming?

  • It’s time to stop saying “retarded”

    Point of View

    OPINION: Social Media primarily offers benefits for teens

  • It’s time to stop saying “retarded”

    Point of View

    What I learned during my year as a Journalism student

  • It’s time to stop saying “retarded”

    Point of View

    Musings from a graduating senior

  • It’s time to stop saying “retarded”

    Point of View

    A ‘lifers’ perspective: my 16 years at Northlake

  • It’s time to stop saying “retarded”

    Point of View

    What will you be doing this summer?

  • It’s time to stop saying “retarded”

    Point of View

    What are your thoughts of the 2018 senior class?

Navigate Right
The Student News Site of Northlake Christian School
It’s time to stop saying “retarded”