The leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome.

National Down Syndrome Society
8 E 41st Street, 8th Floor
New York New York 10017
[email protected] 

Response to Margaret Cho

June 11, 2012

Margaret Cho
c/o Ken Phillips
Ken Philips Publicity Group
6767 Forest Lawn Dr., Ste. 115
L.A., CA 90068

Dear Ms. Cho,

I am writing to you on behalf of the National Down Syndrome Society to express our deep disappointment and concern with your recent use of the words "retard" and "retarded." These words are demeaning and hurtful to people with Down syndrome and their families.

When these words are used to refer to people with Down syndrome or other intellectual disabilities it sustains and perpetuates low expectations and negative stereotypes and further impedes the acceptance of people with disabilities in schools, the workplace and the community. Negative and inaccurate public perceptions are the greatest barriers we face in achieving acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.

We hope that you take this opportunity to gain a better understanding and take a different position than you have to date. At the National Down Syndrome Society, we understand that you may not have been exposed to people with cognitive disabilities, to their challenges, and to their progress in being able to full lives in their communities.

Approximately 400,000 people in the United States have Down syndrome, which is caused by a third copy of chromosome 21. Individuals with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities work very hard – harder than most people – to learn how to read, write, play sports, have a job, live independently, and become valuable members of their communities. They deserve to be respected and celebrated for their success and achievements, and not to have their clinical diagnosis used as a punch-line. More often than not, these individuals are underestimated their whole lives by people who focus on their disability, rather than their abilities.

We would be happy to provide more information about people with Down syndrome so that you can use your celebrity to improve public perception of people with Down syndrome, rather than hindering their progress.


Julie B. Cevallos
Vice President Marketing
National Down Syndrome Society

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