Fishers - There's a move underway by parents and administrators to ban the "R-word" in schools across Indianapolis.
No matter how many times Fishers High School sophomore Maggie Morrissey hears the words "retard" or "retarded," it never hurts any less.
"I hear it, like, almost everyday," says Morrissey. "It makes me mad and sad and, um, makes me feel hurt, because I have an intellectual disability, but it doesn't mean I'm that different. I just learn differently and slower than all my peers."
That's why Morrissey and a group of other students are challenging their peers not to use the R-word. As part of that promise, they've signed their names to a banner that encourages kids to "Spread the Word to End the Word."
"Some people, they just don't get it that people with intellectual disabilities are hurt by the words that they say," says Zachary Curtis, who is also living with an intellectual disability.
"The more people, especially that become willing to stay 'Stop, don't use that word'," says senior Rachel Wright, who is part of the group "Best Buddies" at Fishers High School.
Best Buddies is a national non-profit group that pairs students who have intellectual disabilities with students who don't.
"Last year, when I joined Best Buddies, I met the people in it and found out that they're not less than me. They're exactly my equal and I've learned just as much from them as I hope they've learned from me," says junior Nick Gibson.
Gibson, who's the president of the Fishers High School chapter of Best Buddies, even admits to using the R-word in the past. But not anymore.
"I don't like being called stupid. I don't like hearing things that are offensive to me, so why should I just throw that upon someone else?" says Gibson. "Whenever I hear the word retard, I make sure I question them and say 'Why do you say that?" adds Gibson.
At a time when it's easier to just fit in, at the end of the day, Curtis says the students with intellectual disabilities are "going through the same thing that everybody else is going through."
Which is just trying to get through high school, like everybody else.
Other schools in the district are also participating in Best Buddies, including Riverside Intermediate and Hamilton Southeastern High School. Some colleges are even joining in the campaign against using the R-word.
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