Of the many articles published this year about Dwarfism Awareness Month, one ran on a website called the West Island Chronicle. The article included a short bit on use of the word "midget." The writer wrote, "Also, for the record, the word 'midget' is a derogatory term..." I found the piece interesting because the writer went to to say "... unless you are referring to the hockey or football age-grouping."
When searching the word "midget" on google news, the majority of hits come from stories about local hockey and football teams competing in midget divisions. Such leagues exist all around the country. Though the writer from the West Island Chronicle was correct, the word in this case is not derogatory or objectifying, use of the word in any context makes many people uncomfortable because of the word's legacy, so uncomfortable that some parents or relatives of dwarf children don't want to be associated with the league name. If I had children, I would not want my child, whether he or she be a dwarf or not, to be a part of the league. What then is a parent or relative to do? If he or she wants to play, is it fair to keep him or her out of the league because of a name?
A few parents that I know of are advocating for change. A league near Seattle, Washington, because a coach spoke up, will eliminate use of the word midget in 2013 or 2014. An Illinois-based league will also undergo a name change. The change in Illinois came about because of a letter written by a concerned mother. In both cases, change occured simply because one person expressed concern and asked that something be done. If there is concern elsewhere in the country, I hope those affected will share their concerns and ask that something be done. Like in many things, it never hurts to ask.
The mother from Illinois has agreed to share her letter. It is reprinted below
I am a mother of 3 dwarf children who
are residents here in Park Ridge. One of my daughters is on your
"Midget" soccer league. I personally find it extremely offensive to
associate this word with one of your age groups. The kids and the
coaches on my daughter's team know that she is a dwarf. The word
"midget" is a derogatory word used towards a little person, just as
calling a child or adult with cerebral palsy, retarded. My daughter
knows that this word is used to make fun of people such as her, and to
be quite honest with you, she is very upset with the name of the
division that she falls into.
In today's world, I am
very surprised that, that word is used to associate 7 and 8 year old
children for their division. We are proud active members of the Little
People of America organization, and if it weren't for them fighting for
the right to use the word dwarf, my children would be called midgets.
On behalf of my children and the other dwarfs out there that may/may
not move into Park Ridge, that another name be chosen for this age