Michigan to Remove ‘R-Word’ From State Laws

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (March 5, 2014) — There’s a statewide effort to erase a hurtful word that many say has no place in our vocabulary or in Michigan law.

Governor Snyder has declared March 5 “Spread The Word To End The Word Day.” It’s a move to educate and raise awareness about the positive impact of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. That’s why lawmakers rallied to remove words like “retarded” from Michigan law.

The campaign is an effort by Special Olympics to raise awareness about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the R-word and to encourage people to pledge to stop using it.

“I think people will start to realize that it is hurtful and it is hateful,” said Special Olympian James Yeck. “They just need to stop all together.”

In Michigan, the R-word exists in 17 statutes.  But bills unanimously passed by the House and Senate Wednesday change that, removing the R-word from the laws.

“It’s good that we’re finally standing up for ourselves,” Yeck said.

The U.S. Congress removed the R-word from various federal laws in 2010 and left Michigan as one of only seven states that yet to replace the word in state law.

“It would be a blessing to watch it be completely eliminated from the vocabulary,” Special Olympian Jacqueline Putney-Bunt said.  “Eliminate the pain for those after us to have to deal with.”

The bills are being fast-tracked to Governor Snyder and are expected to be signed before the end of the month.

You can take the pledge online to stop using the R-word.

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4 comments

  • Annoyed

    So let me get this straight…the state is broke, GM is a shadow of its former self, the roads are falling apart, and we're weeks away from what will likely be some of the most castestrophic flooding the state has ever seen, and yet THIS is what Rick Snyder and the Michigan legislation are concerning themselves with?! Give me a freaking break!

  • Guest

    Annoyed-do you think this just popped into his head yesterday? These things take many months to plan with the State and this is a National campaign on the same day every year. Why can't people just be compassionate and feel good that something is being done to help others? Shame on you…

  • Freedom

    Does this really have to be done?? I respect and commend the people with disabilities that can overcome their challenges in an attempt to be all they can be. But, a major problem is coddling of people that have disabilities, enabling the disability to be a copout to the challenge of overcoming their shortcomings. I think a person has to be mentally strong to be all they can be. Counseling, therapy, group support is whats really needed for the less fortunate individuals to be an able person. Boo-Hoo to the enablers of weakness. Too bad that the world we live in is the survival of the fittest, but that's what it is. Good thing that there are programs available to those with disabilities; then again, we can do more; But, don't forget our Constitutional Rights, because the more we seem to grow as a country, the more our Rights are taken away. This is America, and it is the land of opportunity.

  • Annie Zirkel

    Appreciate the awareness campaign. As the mother of a disabled son I usually keep it to myself but it does hurt to hear… Thanks Michigan.