Last week Jordyn's basketball team (Brandon Valley) played at a high school nearby, and because of the close proximity of the game, many of our high school's students came to cheer on their team. After the game, Jordyn asked if we had heard one of the chants the opposing team's student section had yelled during the game. Apparently, after a questionable call made by the officials (in favor of our team), the student section of the opposing team began chanting "That's Retarded!" Jeremy and I looked at each other -- and after wondering how in the heck neither of us had heard it, my heart ached.
As a parent, I think about the next generation. I feel like if we can bring awareness and create change in our kids, it can only get better each generation. So, when Jordyn told me about this -- about kids in her generation -- still using this word, it felt like such a let-down.
(Note: This is definitely not meant to be a slam at Jordyn's generation... I realize that many people in my generation still use this word, and people in generations before me still use this word... but that's for another post. :)
The following day Jordyn came home from school and told us we had to read something. A friend of hers named Spencer had been at the game (also the Junior Class President), and had written a letter to the opposing team's high school...
and as I read it, I got tears in my eyes.
"... after a questionable call made by officials, the Washington High School Student Section disagreed with the call and made it very apparent with the use of the chant, 'That's retarded!' This was done repeatedly.... (the behavior) was unacceptable, uncalled for, and extremely offensive.... the use of the "R Word" was taken very offensively, not only by our student body, but our parents, administrators, and coaches."
"...as the Brandon Valley administration has informed us, no matter how this word is used, it is not tolerated under any circumstances and can easily offend people with disabilities that we have in our district and were present at those games. The only "R Word" that should be used in any high school activity is RESPECT."
This letter is so incredible on so many levels...
... Spencer (Jordyn's friend) apparently was raised in a home environment where this word was not acceptable (way to go Spencer's parents!)
... Spencer not only believed this was unacceptable, but actually took the initiative to write a letter
... after being posted on the Brandon Valley Student Body Facebook Page, it has received hundreds of "likes" from students in our high school
... Jordyn has surrounded herself with friends like Spencer!
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So today, on Spread The Word to End The Word, I think about the next generation.
I think about Spencer's letter.
I think about all the support the letter has received by the other high school students.
I think about Jordyn, who so willingly talks with a man who comes up to her after every basketball game... a man from our town with
a disability different abilities who attends every single basketball game to show his support.
I think about Jordyn's friends, who used to use the R-word, but because of Jordyn's influence, have since stopped... and are now correcting other teenagers when they say it.
I think about Carter, who will grow up only knowing acceptance and appreciation for everyone.
Yes, I think about the next generation.
They are creating awareness and change.
And so, it will only get better.
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Please click here to take the "Spread the Word to End the Word" pledge.
You can read my post from last year's "Spread The Word" Day.
You can also read Rylee's Letter "A Little Bit About the 'R' Word" (written August 2008.) You can also click here to download her letter.