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Spread the Word to End the Word

Maria Kipper, Journalist

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When the Spread the Word to End the Word poster in Rhinelander High’s cafeteria were marked with the word the campaign is trying prevent people from saying. For some it sparked inspiration to make a change, while others simply debated the topic.

 

“Many don’t realize that saying the word “retard” may have a deeper effect than intended, and the whole point of the campaign is to help people realize that,” said junior Mikayla Evenstad

 

Evenstad is involved in the Project Unify at the school. The club works with special education students and also helps with the special Olympics. Despite what was written on the posters, Evenstad thinks that many students are in support of the campaign and want to see the word stop being used, however others simply either don’t notice that it’s a problem or simply don’t care.

 

“…which is why we do the campaign, to try and draw attention to the issue. Some things that I wish students knew about the students I work with is that just because they have a disability doesn’t mean they aren’t as important as those who don’t, they have talents just like everyone else without disabilities,” said Evenstad.

 

Students aren’t the only ones involved in the issue. Many teachers and advisors also help out with Project Unify and the special Olympics. Mrs. Lehman has been working with the Project Unify club for the past fours years. The goal of the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign for he is to end the use of the R- word but also try and promote not looking at people different regardless.

 

“The goal of the campaign is to make people recognize that when they use that word, but not just that word. To be more conscience of all words that could be hurtful,” said Lehman.

 

She believes that most times the word isn’t meant to be hurtful, but that doesn’t make saying right.

 

“Often times when I hear that word, the context its used is not meant to be hurtful to be people with disabilities but sometimes we hear it outside of out room referring to our students and it is really hurtful. Maybe they think our students don’t know what it is, but they do,” said Lehman.

Other teachers like, Mrs. Lintereur think that when she first saw the poster in the commons she was in disbelief that someone would do something like this.

 

“Disgust. It’s so unnecessary and I think it’s easy to do when you can be anonymous. But it’s not necessary, there is no reason that you need to be cruel. There’s a lot of words that we don’t need to use whether you can use them or not and being intentionally cruel to somebody or intentionally targeting  somebody is not part of your freedom of speech, We can’ use the N-word or we shouldn’t be using it anyway. And this word falls in that category, using terms that are derogatory about someone’s sexuality or anything like that, when you are intentionally cruel to somebody that’s not freedom of speech that just being cruel.” says Lintereur.

The students and staff at RHS want to see the Project Unify campaign bring unity and a safer, more inclusive environment to the halls of the school.

 

“I ‘d just like to see Rhinelander as a whole, as a school being inclusive of everybody regardless. Why do we need labels? We are all just people. We can’t change things if we don‘t have a discussion,” says Lintereur.

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Spread the Word to End the Word