Special Education

Lawmakers Discuss Removing Words “Mentally Retarded” From Federal Law

May 26, 2010 1 min read
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Why should there be outdated or offensive language in the very laws designed to protect the civil rights of individuals with disabilities? That’s what some lawmakers are discussing on Capitol Hill this week.

Senators are preparing to eliminate all references in federal law to the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded individual,” The Hill newspaper reports. New legislation, called Rosa’s Law, would replace those terms with “intellectual disability” and “individual with an intellectual disability,” the article says.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) last November after promising a constituent she would act if the Maryland legislature passed a similar law. The Maryland law was signed last year, the article says.

The bill is named after Rosa Marcellino, who has an intellectual disability and whose family was instrumental in advocating for the Maryland law. The federal legislation is expected to be marked up in the Senate Health, Education and Pensions (HELP) Committee this week, the Hill reports.

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.

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