The ‘R word’ is offensive

In light of the recent Inclusive Illinois Celebration Day (, we would like to bring your attention to an offensive display that was hung from an apartment balcony in Campustown on game day Saturday, September 12. The banner read, “Bloomington, IL: Champaign’s retarded cousin.”

Not everyone realizes that the word “retarded” is extremely offensive to people with intellectual disability – formerly called mental retardation. Words have power and using “retarded” to degrade people with and without disabilities supports negative stereotypes. Imagine that the word retarded was replaced with an ethnic slur, or homophobic or sexist language. Many in the campus community would consider such wording an insult to the diversity we value at the University of Illinois.

As members of the Department of Special Education in the College of Education we would like to remind you that disability is one of the many forms of diversity that makes our campus great.

Let’s challenge ourselves to be mindful of the language we use and broaden our awareness, inclusion, and acceptance of people with intellectual disability on campus and in our community. For more information go to Let us all support the realization of an Inclusive Illinois for all.

Special Education Graduate Student Association (SEGSA) and Department of Special Education, College of Education