Lauren Potter and Jane Lynch of Fox's "Glee" star in the powerful PSA, "Not Acceptable".

The Spread the Word to End the Word campaign is pleased to announce the release of a new hard-hitting public service announcement (PSA) called "Not Acceptable."

This 30-second television PSA gives voice to a variety of diverse communities, each of whom expresses that it is not acceptable to call them by what were once common words, but are now recognized as offensive slurs. It culminates in actress and self-advocate Lauren Potter from “Glee” stating that it is not acceptable to use the word ‘retard.’ She and “Glee” co-star Jane Lynch make a call to action to stop using the R-word and to promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

One constant challenge with raising awareness about the hurtful nature of the R-word is that most people do not view it to be as hurtful as other common epithets that our society has consensually removed from our lexicon. The PSA “Not Acceptable” tackles that challenge head on in a hard-hitting and impactful way in an effort to educate our society that for people with intellectual disabilities and those that love them, the R-word is just as hurtful as any other slur. You can make a difference today by taking the pledge to stop using the word 'retard' and replace it with a new R-word: Respect.

“Not Acceptable” has been previewed by and received support from multiple advocacy organizations including the Anti-Defamation League, Special Olympics, GLAAD, Best Buddies, Hispanic Federation, National Puerto Rican Coalition, Asian American Federation, and the NAACP.  See the statements of support.

To date, multiple networks have committed to airing this powerful and compelling PSA including Fox and a majority of their cable channels and regional sports networks, CBS, MTV, USA Network, and Turner networks including TNT, TBS, truTV and CNN.

"Not Acceptable" was executive produced by Jim Serpico and Tom Sellitti of New York based Apostle, and shot, produced and directed by Spot On from City Island, NY.

Watch the PSA, "Not Acceptable," and share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Statements of Support

Spread the Word to End the Word

One constant challenge we face with raising awareness about the hurtful nature of the R-word is that most people do not view it to be as hurtful as other common epithets that our society has consensually removed from our lexicon. We believe the public service announcement “Not Acceptable” tackles that challenge head on in a hard-hitting and impactful way in an effort to educate our society that for people with intellectual disabilities and those that love them, the R-word is just as hurtful as any other slur. We hope everyone who sees this public service announcement will go to and take our pledge to stop using the word 'retard' and replace it with a new R-word: Respect.

Anti-Defamation League

"This PSA compellingly and succinctly reminds us that words have power. When they are used to denigrate any group of people, including people with intellectual disabilities, people and institutions have the responsibility to communicate that such behavior is unacceptable. ADL is proud to endorse this PSA." David Waren, Director, Education Division


"We applaud your campaign, "THE R-WORD," and the impactful public service announcement. The slurs used in the PSA are words most Americans do not want to hear. Unfortunately, these damaging words are said every day, but this message reminds us all that we must choose our words carefully and always remember that words are powerful and can potentially hurt others." Jarrett T. Barrios, President


“In 2006, the NAACP buried the use of the ‘N’ word with the goal of removing this derogatory word from modern usage. Although we wish to register our concern for the use of this and other historically racist speech, we support the spirit of your Public Service Announcement regarding the ‘R’ word.” Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman

"This PSA is a powerful step forward in our quest for respect and equality for people with disabilities. Language and dismissive remarks of someone’s worth, in this case those with varying abilities, is often the precursor to bullying. As one of the largest online communities for families of children of and professionals serving children and youth with disabilities, endorses without reservation, your PSA featuring Lauren Potter and Jane Lynch. Thank you again for your tireless efforts in creating champions and for being one for people with intellectual disabilities." Sheryl Young, CEO

Special Olympics

"This PSA puts forth critical messages that words have tremendous power to hurt or to heal, that language can evolve and we all have a responsibility to speak out against injustice in any form. Equating people with intellectual disabilities to all other minorities is an important first step to make in the minds of many people as they choose the words they use in their everyday lives. This PSA brings that equality to the forefront in a way that cannot be ignored. Special Olympics proudly endorses the PSA." Tim Shriver, Chairman & CEO

Best Buddies

"This innovative PSA drives home the messaging that Best Buddies and Special Olympics have been trying to convey through our Spread the Word to End the Word campaign: words can hurt, especially when used in a derisive fashion. Hopefully this PSA will help others learn to see people with intellectual and developmental disabilities the same way we at Best Buddies do – as classmates, as colleagues, as friends, and most importantly, as equals." Anthony Shriver, Founder & Chairman

Susan Senator

"This spot is a new approach to spreading the word, and it kept me watching because of its directness, its in-your-face honesty. This clear and inclusive PSA, as well as the ethnically inclusive content of the ad, succeeds in sending the message far and wide, and should really open some eyes and minds."  Susan Senator, mom and author of “Making Peace with Autism”

Laura Pope

"As the mother of a precious, gifted child with Down syndrome, not a day goes by that I do not hear the R-word used in a way that was not initially intended (to designate a medical diagnosis). And most often, it is in the media, more precisely network television. And as hard as we, as parents, advocates, and organizations as well respected as the Special Olympics, try, we can’t change this without the support and proactive participation of the media and its influential and powerful voice. This PSA clearly illustrates that words have enormous power to hurt or heal, that language can evolve – that people can evolve – and that we all have a responsibility to speak out against injustice. As Dr. King wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Your PSA brings this truth to life. On behalf of myself, my child, and our many friends and fellow advocates, I thank you for your efforts to eradicate hurtful, demeaning language toward people with intellectual disabilities and I proudly endorse this PSA."Laura Pope, mom and blogger at Miss Fancy Pants’s World

Terri Mauro

"It's disappointing that people need to be told so directly that the R-Word is an unacceptable slur. You'd like to think that, with so many other hateful words having been recognized and removed, it would only make sense to extend the same respect to people with intellectual disabilities. Yet time and again, we see people treating the R-word as something fun and harmless, free speech rather than hate speech. Perhaps putting it just this bluntly is what it takes to make the connection. Do you hate hearing those slurs coming out of your TV? Do they sting your ears and make your heart race? Good. Feel the same way about the R-word." - Terri Mauro, mom and author of guide to 'Parenting Special Needs'

Ellen Seidman

"As the mom of a young child with disabilities, it pains me to hear people using 'retard' or 'retarded' in any context. My son is unaware of the words' meaning right now but I worry that someday, they will pain him, too. He has enough challenges to overcome in life; I do not want the stereotype of 'stupid' following him around, which is exactly what happens when people perpetuate the use of the word 'retard.' Even if they use it in a self-deprecating way or they're joking around with friends.

When I raised awareness about the rampant use of the R-word in a personal campaign on my blog, I got a flood of support—along with people who defensively claimed freedom of speech or who said there was nothing to get upset about. Which is exactly why this pointed, powerful, shocker of a PSA is so timely, and so necessary. People need to keep getting the message that the R-word is offensive, derogatory, and just plain wrong to use." - Ellen Seidman, mom and blogger at Love That Max 

Carrie McLaren

"This PSA is a great representation that harmful words can impact all walks of life, not only those with intellectual disabilities, but all minorities." Carrie McLaren, mom and blogger at Carrie with Children

Question and Answers regarding the New Spread the Word PSA

Q: This PSA contains some shocking language that many minority groups have worked very hard to remove from the lexicon, why did you feel it necessary to use this language?

A: Ever since we’ve launched Spread the Word to End the Word, many people simply do not see what the problem is with using the R-word and we have explored different approaches to raise the consciousness of society. The development of this PSA was based on focus groups with a diverse range of young adults who were very responsive to the creative concept and vetted with national advocacy and disability organizations as well as self-advocates. 

Q: This PSA contains some explicit language that many feel is not appropriate for a young audience. Are there any measures in place to address this?

A: We are sensitive to families with young children due to the language in the PSA. Therefore, the PSA is in rotation after 9pm and within programming that contains a rating of TV-14 or higher. 

Q: Lauren Potter has been very outspoken about bullying and the R-word. How did she get involved and is she an official spokesperson for the campaign? Is Jane Lynch also a spokesperson?

A: Lauren is a spokesperson for the campaign, as well as an extremely talented actress on “Glee.” Jane Lynch appeared in the PSA to support her friend Lauren but is not a spokesperson. Lauren has been doing great work as a spokesperson for a groundbreaking report from about the silent epidemic of bullying students with special needs called “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes.” This report was also supported by Tim Shriver of Special Olympics and Anthony Shriver of Best Buddies. We’ve found the R-word is one of the most common forms of bullying students with special needs so Lauren teamed up with our campaign so we could jointly share our messages with as broad an audience as possible.  

Q: Where can I find more information about the Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign?

• For basic campaign Q&A, please use and refer to the Question and Answer page on

• For information or questions regarding campaign basics as to why the R-word is hurtful, the history of the campaign, the change in language from ‘mental retardation’ to people first language, or Rosa’s Law, please direct these inquiries to the Why Pledge Page on the website.

• For information or questions about campaign language, what to do when you hear the R-word or how to get involved, please direct these inquiries to the Take Action Page on the website.

• For news article links and news stories, please direct these inquiries to the News Page on

• For questions about resources, fact sheets or talking points about the campaign, please direct these inquiries to the Resources Page on  

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  • I pledge to continue educating people on why the use of that word hurts. My Aunt had the best extra chromosome and I was blessed enough to take care of her in her final y...



    Gladstone, Oregon

  • I’ve been bullied and been called it a few times as I have a disability! We need to end this!

    Michelle Martin

    Simcoe, Canada

  • I pledge to support getting rid of the r-word, and hope that many others join me because of the hurt it brings to people with disabilities and their family when they hear...



    Geraldton, Australia

  • I am apart of a group called All Abilities Athletic and my little sister has autism and with all the challenges we faced with her. I would not change anything because she...



    Marthasville , Missouri

  • I have a cousin his name is Kale. He has down syndrome and I would be very upset if I ever heard someone call him the r-word.

    Nathan Usry

    Marthasville, Missouri

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