Florida becomes 40th state to end the “R-word”

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The state of Florida has unanimously passed a law replacing the word “retarded’ with “intellectual disability” in its state laws.

A light blue shape of Florida sitting on top of graph paper

News from Florida

With the change, Florida became the 40th state in recent years to eliminate the use of a word long considered derogatory and offensive to people with disabilities.

In 2010, Congress approved Rosa’s Law, eliminating the use of the word “retarded” in federal law. Last year, President Obama also signed into law a bill eliminating the word “lunatic” from the federal lexicon.

One of Florida’s Programs, previously called the Mentally Retarded Defendant Program, will now be called the Developmental Disabilities Defendant Program.

“We are pleased to see the name of this program being changed,” the Arc of Florida said in a news release. “It’s especially rewarding for our self-advocates who spent the last three years working to remove the phrase ‘mental retardation’ from state statutes.

“‘Mental retardation’ was once considered a valid medical term, but over the years, it was twisted into a hurtful slang word that promotes negative stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities.”

For more information people-first language and the “R-Word: Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign can be read here.