Casual stereotyping needs to stop
Gay. Retarded. These words fly through the halls at Blair, but no one seems to care, and no one seems willing to fight against their negative usage. The words no longer refer to specific qualities; they have become ubiquitous words of hatred instead. It's time for Blazers to cut out their casual hate slang and for teachers to encourage those around them to do the same because the negative use of these words offends people, perpetuates stereotypes and demonstrates ignorance.
Many homosexuals already live in hostile environments and swallow insults from bigoted peers and family members. People who are mentally retarded, in addition to having difficulties accurately perceiving the world, frequently encounter abuse at the hands of others. It is downright horrible for these individuals to also have to endure indirect mockery and derision in the form of casual hate slang from their peers at Blair that spreads the message that conditions like homosexuality and retardation are things to be ashamed of.
Composition assistant Susan Corum, who has a mentally-retarded son, takes especial offense when she hears students calling each other retarded. "Any word that puts the condition of being mentally retarded in a negative light is insulting to me," she explains.
Some Blair students claim that using these words as insults is acceptable because their language is not directed toward "real" homosexuals or mentally retarded individuals, and therefore it is not insulting. But the very act of equating homosexuality or retardation with a negative situation is what makes hate slang so offensive.
While SPARC Resource teacher Hunter Hogewood feels that most teachers try to confront students who use casual hate slang, he also realizes that it is hard to always be on the lookout for such language. "You almost can't address it every time," he says. He points out the incredible frequency with which students use these negative words and adds, "It's like they don't understand that it's potentially offensive."
The time has come for students to recognize that casual hate slang at Blair must stop. Diversity Workshop should work to interact with as many classes as possible to destroy the stereotypes that homosexuality and retardation are disgraceful conditions. Students must be willing to confront their friends about their language. Instead of holding back due to embarrassment or apathy, they should be able to say, "Don't talk that way," and then explain why they are making this request. But most importantly, teachers must be able to explain the context of the words and the reasons against their usage. Blair needs to evolve to a point where stereotyping is not tolerated and people are not insulted for conditions that they should not be ashamed to possess.
Nina Feinberg. Nina Feinberg is a CAP senior who enjoys <i>Silver Chips</i> almost as much as she enjoys pie. Mmmm, pie. More »