Couple Removes Sign Targeting Teenage Neighbor
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 24, 2006
NEPHI, UTAH--A couple in this small town have removed from their yard a sign that targeted a young teenager with disabilities after the local police chief had a talk with them.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Kallie and Darren Galbraith hung a sign from a tree in their yard last Wednesday that read "CAUTION, RETARD'S IN AREA." The couple said they posted the sign to warn others that 13-year-old Colton Heaton, who has autism and other developmental disabilities, lived in the neighborhood. The Galbraiths claimed Colton sometimes wandered the neighborhood, had entered homes without permission, and took things from residents. They also claimed the boy threw rocks at their 10-year-old daughter last fall, injuring her knee and elbow.
Colton's mother, Carrie Heaton, said she was surprised at the sign, and denied that her son has caused any problems in the neighborhood.
"He can't read the sign," she said of her son. "But everyone else can. This not only affects him, but all the special-needs people who live in Nephi, Juab County and Utah."
Nephi Police Chief Chad Bowles said the Galbraiths took down the sign after he visited their home on Friday.
"We talked to them. I think they understood by using that type of wording they made a mistake," he said. "It's so degrading and it ridicules the [boy's] family."
Fraser Nelson, director of the Disability Law Center, said: "We have a tolerance for that kind of language that we don't have for other derogatory terms."
She added: "If the sign said, 'Caution, blacks living here,' or 'Caution, Jews living here,' people would respond to it in a very direct way."
"Neighbor's offensive sign targets autistic teen" (Salt Lake Tribune)
"Autistic teen sign removed" (Salt Lake Tribune)