Words Matter and More Importantly People Matter

Our mission at GiGi’s Playhouse is to change the way the world views Down syndrome and bring a global message of acceptance for all. We accomplish this through leading by example. Often times, when someone uses offensive or derogatory language it’s because they are uninformed.

We believe that when you know better, you do better.

The following are a few examples of tools we use to promote use of inclusive language:

Using People First Language

All of our volunteers are trained to use ‘people first language’ which prioritizes the person and not the diagnosis. Instead of saying “my Down syndrome friend:”, say “my friend with Down syndrome”.

This guideline is simple for everyone to use and if we find that someone is not using the people first language approach we often will re-word what they said back to them. For example:

“My Downs student was struggling with math today”.

“I’m sorry to hear your student with Down syndrome had some obstacles today.”

Immediately addressing use of inappropriate words

It is still too much of a common occurrence for people to use the ‘R’ word. We hear this word used when talking about people and when trying to convey that someone or something is ‘stupid’.

We reached out to our network of Playhouses and our local families to learn how they have addressed this situation before. You can see those responses below.

Examples of ways people address this situation:

  • Choose not to give the word power but share their displeasure with a look
  • Be direct in saying “We don’t use that word here”
    • Sometimes this can be a ‘generational’ thing where it used to be commonplace to use this word. But again- when you know you better, you do better.
  • Share an explanation:
    • “I’m sorry to hear you use that word- you have not learned that those with a disability do understand what you say and how you say it”
    • “This is a dated term that has become offensive to the disability community over time, specifically people with Down syndrome or other intellectual disabilities. It is no longer a medical term and is often used as an insult.”
  • Post a response on social media:
    • This is an example of a post from a board member at the Detroit Playhouse:
      • “If you don’t have a disabled child, please hear this: I read this about my SON. My CHILD. My vulnerable, innocent, sweet child. People like this were kids once. And kids repeat what they hear, and then they say it as adults. You, parents of typical kids, MUST join us in shifting narrative. It is not enough to look at pictures of my son and feel good about our family. Take action. Talk to your kids. Help us prevent this type of thinking.”

Truly Live ‘Generation G’

Generation G is a global movement that all or our network of Playhouses believe in and educate our communities about.

Take the Generation G Pledge today by clicking the image below!

There is a power in numbers! The more people that truly start living their lives the Generation G way, the more people we will reach and educate on the truths of our Down syndrome community. This ripple effect starts with one person making the conscious decision to be better everyday.

We have free teaching resources available for schools, businesses and families which are easy to use and share. Visit our Iacceptyou.org page now to see what’s available. Please reach out with any questions you have.

We are incredibly grateful for the hundreds of local supporters, volunteers and families that do their very best for the Down syndrome community every day. We truly can live our mission of changing the way the world views Down syndrome and bringing a global message of acceptance for all, but can only do it you also decide to help. We are all in this together and it takes just a little bit of effort to substantially change the world for the better.

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