LANSING (WWJ) – Something will soon be missing from all the laws in Michigan: the word “retarded.”

Lt. Governor Brian Calley on Friday will sign the “R-Word” package of bills at Hill Auditorium in Lansing, officially removing all versions of the word from state law.

Once common terms used  to refer to people with learning or developmental disabilities, the words retarded, retardation, and mental retardation are now largely regarded as offensive or insulting.

The term, in its different forms, appears 15 times in Michigan laws dealing with everything from mental health to education to crime. The word will be replaced with the term “developmental disability.”

According to officials at Special Olympics Michigan, there are only a handful of states left that have yet to take similar measures. The words “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” were removed from federal policy in 2010.

“This is a historic day for Michigan,” said Special Olympics Michigan President and CEO Lois Arnold. “We would like to thank Lt. Governor Brian Calley for his leadership in helping to make today possible. With the signing of these bills, those with developmental disabilities now have a new ‘R-Word’: respect.”

Following Friday’s “R-Word” bill signing, there will be a “Spread the Word to End the Word” anti-bullying rally, with students from several Lansing-area schools participating.



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