The Arc to Speak Against Susan Curlee’s Use of “R-Word”

The Arc Logo

The Arc, an organization which educates and advocates on behalf of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, plans to speak at the next Williamson County school board meeting on Monday, Sept 21. The Arc will speak to ending “use of the R-word”, referring to the word ‘retard’ and its variations.

This action comes in response to WCS board member Susan Curlee’s recent tweet which compared another Twitter user and District 12 constituent as a “retarded chimp” through use of a definition found on Urban Dictionary. The tweet has drawn criticism from people in Williamson County and beyond. Many have called for Curlee to issue a formal apology. Curlee’s response to the issue only served to inflame the situation further.

Sharon Bottorff, Executive Director of The Arc Williamson County, released the following statement:

“Make no mistake:  the word ‘retard’ is hate speech. Its sole purpose is to insult, offend and belittle.

It is discouraging to hear the ‘R’ word used because it is so hurtful to people with intellectual disabilities-people who live, work and play in our communities, just like the rest of us. It is even more discouraging to hear the word used from someone in a place of power…someone who is supposed to represent the community.

While use of the ‘R’ word may seem inconsequential to people not connected to the disability community – The Arc Tennessee, The Arc Williamson County and other disability advocacy organizations will tell you otherwise.  People with intellectual disabilities are offended by the use of that word.  It hurts them, their families, and everyone connected to them.

The ‘R’ word has no place in our vocabulary.  In fact, there is a nationwide movement to end the use of the word.  The Arc Tennessee, The Arc Williamson County and other disability advocacy organizations invite you to join ‘R-word:  Spread the Word to End the Word; by signing the pledge at  Help educate others who may not know how hurtful the use of the “R” word is to our Tennesseans with intellectual disabilities and their families.  This issue has nothing to do with being ‘politically correct.’  It has everything to do with being respectful of people with intellectual disability.”

The next school board meeting is Monday, Sept 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the W