Florida is being urged to ban the word “retard” from state regulations. The Art of Florida, a non-profit group for people with developmental disabilities wants usage of the “R-Word” to become a thing of the past. If the advocacy group’s efforts are successful the terms mentally retarded and mental retardation would be changed to “intellectually disabled.”
The Arc of Florida CEO Mark Swain maintains the banning the word retard is not about political correctness but about respect, MSN reports. Florida is reportedly one of only 11 stated which have not dropped the word retarded from regulatory forms. In 2010 Congress banned the term from being used at the federal level.
Celebrities such as Lady Gaga and NFL quarterback Joe Flacco have recently endured backlash for using the word retarded, the Orlando Sentinel notes. The national campaign to prompt the end to using the term is now focused on the Sunshine State.
Retarded or retard was initially used as a medical term, but ultimately became a derogatory slang term used by both adults and children. Arc of Florida volunteer Jeannie Forthuber has a 24-year-old son with both intellectual and developmental disabilities. She had this to say about banning the word retarded in Florida:
“It’s hurtful. Let’s face it. We are all people. We don’t need to be picked out based on our differences and weaknesses.”
Forthuber works a Freedom Ride in Orlando and teacher people with disabilities how to ride horses, the Sun Sentinel reports. She feels some of her students lack self-confidence and could internalize their pain. The Arc of Florida recently created the noRword.org website to convince others to join their movement to stop using the word retarded.
Some Florida agencies have already opted not to use the word retarded or mental retardation. The advocacy group for people with disabilities are reportedly working with Republican State Senator Thad Altman on the official terminology change.
What do you think about the movement to ban the term retarded in Florida?
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