LIBERTY, Mo. -- Words can hurt. That's what students at one local high school say about the slang word "retarded," and they're encouraging their peers to cut it out.
Two students at Liberty North High School, seniors Montana Grizzle and Skyler Allen, are leading a student-based campaign to end the use of the word "retarded," as it pertains to the slang use of the word.
On Friday, the two went as far as to hold a mock funeral, and actually bury "the R word." A small wooden cutout of the letter 'R' was buried on school grounds, and set afire, along with signatures of students vowing not to use the slur.
Allen and Grizzle even obtained a donated tombstone from a local mortuary. Allen said it will serve as a permanent reminder that students should take a stand to defend the mentally disabled.
"It's become such a norm in our society to use the 'R word' in that derogatory way, that it's okay to use it," Allen said. "We are here to say that it's not okay."
Students issued their support by signing this pact, agreeing to end their use of the derogatory term. Grizzle said she helped start this push after a family member was diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
"We wanted to accept everyone for who they are and to create a culture of positive language," Grizzle said. "We don't want people using this word or any negative words."
Jenny Rovel Jones helps manage the school's Gateway program, which offers a chance for the mentally handicapped to transition from high school into the working world.
"One person using positive language can make a difference," Jones said. "One person can influence everyone to create a more positive climate at Liberty North High School."
Allen and Grizzle say they're pleased that the majority of the student body at Liberty North High School has agreed to sign that pact.
The campaign to bury the "R word" is part of a national initiative. Here's a link to their website.