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NASCAR Driver Hailie Deegan to Receive Sensitivity Training After Using R-Word

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What happened: At an iRacing event on Twitch over the weekend, 19-year-old NASCAR driver Hailie Deegan used the R-word, an ableist slur toward people with disabilities, when referring to a driver who was getting close behind her, according to CBS Sports. Deegan has since apologized for her use of the R-word on Twitter. She will have to take sensitivity training before the start of the 2021 NASCAR season.

The Frontlines: The R-word is a slur that has been used to insult people with intellectual disabilities, and it’s highly offensive and violent toward the disability community.

  • Using the R-word as an insult insinuates that people with intellectual disabilities are not smart, which has historically been used to strip people with disabilities of their rights.
  • In 2010, former U.S. President Barack Obama signed Rosa’s Law, changing the language to “intellectual disability” in U.S. federal law to be more inclusive.

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A Mighty Voice: Contributor Amber Gale explained why the use of the R-word is harmful, even when not directed at people with disabilities. “At the time, I didn’t understand what the big deal was. I didn’t mean it as an insult to people with disabilities, it was simply a word I grew up using. But newsflash? It doesn’t matter if I meant it ‘that way’ or not. The word is insulting based on its origin.” You can submit your first-person story, too

Other Things to Know: Using the R-word can be harmful to people with disabilities and their families. You can read these stories below to learn more about why people want to end the use of the word and embrace more inclusive language.

Image via Wikimedia Commons/Talladega87

Originally published: January 13, 2021
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