Senate District 21
"One action relating to children with intellectual and developmental disabilities is particularly overdue: eliminating all variations of the word "retarded" and replacing them with respectful language. The "R-word" is extremely hurtful and demeaning to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and its use presents significant barriers to community inclusion.
State governments are recognizing this belatedly and are progressing toward the universal use of respectful language: Several states voted recently to remove the R-word from statute. Meanwhile, President Obama signed Rosa's Law, a bill to eliminate the terms "mental retardation" and "mentally retarded" from federal health, education and labor laws. Texas should not lag behind. In 2009 I authored legislation that would have required all variations of the word "R-word" to be removed from Texas statutes. Although SB 1395 was heard by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, it was never scheduled for a vote. I re-filed this respectful language legislation, SB 26, for the Texas Legislative Session that convened on Jan. 11.
When it comes to treating persons with respect, Texas should lead by example. This is not a partisan issue. It is a matter of human decency. Eliminating the R-word from our everyday and legal language would reflect our commitment to the ethic of respectful reciprocity, or what many of us know as the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you would like to be treated. Equally important, it also would reflect the Platinum Rule: Treat others the way they would like to be treated. These rules are not only the way we should live our lives, but also are the best approach to public policy. Fortunately, no legislation has to be passed for us to start eliminating the R-word from everyday speech. We can start immediately by talking with our friends and family."