[The information below came from a press release issued by Senator Pavley's office].
The State Senate unanimously passed Senator Fran Pavley’s Senate Bill 1381, the “End the R-Word” bill on a bipartisan vote Friday morning.
Senator Pavley said, “I appreciate the support of all my colleagues in the State Senate this morning and their acknowledgement that the term “mentally retarded” is offensive and outdated.”
Senator Pavley introduced SB 1381 to make an important terminology change for the disabled community throughout California. Existing law refers to “mental retardation” or a “mentally retarded” person in provisions relating to educational and social services, commitment to state facilities and criminal punishment.
Senator Pavley said, ““The use of the “R-word” is profoundly hurtful to many people with intellectualdisabilities and to their families. As others have become accustomed to casually using the ‘R-word’ as a joke or to demean someone, those words have shaped the perception and self-worth of people who suffer with intellectual disabilities.”
SB 1381 would revise these provisions to refer instead to “intellectual disability” or “a person with an intellectual disability.” The state is not expected to incur any additional costs as changes will occur during routine revisions to laws and documents over the next several years.
The federal government has removed the use of the word “retarded,” as have 42 other states. The federal government has stripped the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from federal health, education and labor
policies replacing them with “Intellectual disability” and “individual with an intellectual disability.”
When originally introduced, the term “mentally retarded” or “mental retardation” was a medical term with a specific clinical connotation. Today, this term is most commonly used to degrade or insult people and reinforce painful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities. It is estimated that seven to
eight million Americans or one in ten families in the United States experience intellectual disabilities.
SB 1381 is sponsored by The Arc of California and supported by United Cerebral Palsy in California.