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Lt. Governor Signs Bills Deleting ‘Retarded’ From Michigan Laws

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LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Lt. Gov. Brian Calley has signed legislation removing the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from state laws.

The “R-Word” laws  reflect a recent recommendation from a mental health commission appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder. They strike outdated language from various statutes and replace them with terms such as “developmentally disabled” or “intellectually disabled.”

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, appeared 15 times in Michigan laws dealing with everything from mental health to education to crime.

The mental health commission recommended the wording changes in December with the aim of reducing stigmas associated with mental illness and developmental disabilities. Special Olympics Michigan has said Michigan was among just a handful of states to not have already passed such legislation.

Calley said the changes encourage “everybody else to do a check on the types of words that we’re using” and to be “as inclusive and respectful” as possible.

Following Friday’s “R-Word” bill signing at Hill Auditorium, a “Spread the Word to End the Word” anti-bullying rally was held with students from several Lansing-area schools participating.

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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