State Legislature Working To Ban ‘Retarded’ From Language

By Stephanie Lucero, CBS 11 News

AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – The Texas Legislature is considering a law that will ban terms like “mentally retarded, disabled, and crippled” from many new state documents.  But some experts say the list of banned words may go too far.

Texas House Bill 1481 passed yesterday and it says “the legislature and the Texas Legislative Council are directed to avoid using the following terms . . . (1) disabled; (2) developmentally disabled; (3) mentally disabled, (4) mentally ill; (5) mentally retarded; (6) handicapped; (7) cripple; and (8) crippled. “    The bill says those words should be replaced with “preferred phrases” such as “persons with disabilities”; “persons with developmental disabilities”;  “persons with mental illness”; and “persons with intellectual disabilities.”

Alex Flores is the mother of two boys who are both autistic. “I dread the day that someone calls one of my children ‘retard,’” says Flores.

Flores says terms like “mentally retarded” and “crippled” are derogatory.  “I don’t know if I prefer developmentally disabled or developmentally challenged” says Flores.   “I don’t think one is any harsher than the other” she adds.   Flores says she doesn’t object to the word “handicapped”.

Max Nelson is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Clinical Supervisor at the SEAY Behavioral Health Center at Texas Health Plano.  Nelson says the term “mentally retarded” is a clinical term commonly used in diagnosing an intellectual disability.  “If it’s simply a change of words to be more politically correct, if you will, then let’s look at another way to do it” says Nelson.  Nelson says he  encourages parents to use a dictionary and talk to their children about these terms.  He says often children who bully don’t know the definition of these words but do know it has a very negative connotation.  “It holds the potential to be very harmful”, particularly to children who have developmental delays.

Lawmakers say the House and the Senate versions of the bill do not apply to private businesses or the spoken words used by public employees.  The changes would be made in new State documents used by schools, and other state-funded facilities.  New statutes and revisions to current laws would also include the preferred terms if the proposal is passed into law.   The State Senate is reviewing its version of the bill.

  • Dottie

    My concern with this news story is not the proposed bill but with Stephanie Lucero’s lack of preparation and / or basic understanding of what HB 1481 (commonly known as “Person 1st Respectful Language Initiative”) is about. In her opening comments she refers to two brothers as “autistic.” A complete understanding of the bill would have led Ms. Lucero to refer to the boys as “two brothers with autism.” Hopefully HB 1481 will give Ms. Lucero the tools needed the next time she reports on a person or persons with disabilities.

  • Keith K

    And heretofore, all ugly people shall be referred to persons having severe appearance deficits.

  • Earl S.

    I don’t usually condone these hurtful words,but to come up with this kind of proposal takes someone with a serious mental problem of thier own.
    This is rediculous.

  • R1c0c4et

    I’ve decided that I am offended by the word, “smart.” I would now like to be referred to as “intellectually superior!”

    And since I burn easily in the sun, I would also like to be called “pigmentally disabled.”

  • billy

    The SHORT BUS is honking……GOTTA GO..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • OneLegShort

    I am crippled, my son is autistic, and I find this the biggest WASTE of time and tax-payer’s dollars ever! Words are just words, ban them and another will take it’s place. Someone can call me a fruit tree, it makes NO difference! People stop wearing your emotions on the outside and learn to control yourselves! If YOU are proud of who and what you are, others will be too. Why should anyone be ashamed to admit their downfalls? We ALL have them!

    • militaryman

      i thankfully dont have any problems as such but im glad that someone that actually has a physical disability and a son that is autistic is saying this because could the government be any more controlling and waste so much money over something so rediculous, im in the military and my pay is being seriously threatened to be cut and for the government to be wasting so much money on something that is frankly irrelevent at such a hard time economicly speaking is amazing. i respect you greatly “onelegshort” and i wish you and your son the best

    • les

      i totally agree . people are way to hung up on words. i have never heard a word that could hurt me . get a grip people

  • patriot 23

    is this what we’ve been reduced to? I don’t mean to hurt feeling but this is a waste of time and resource . this is the govt explaining why their too important to shut down , wasting our money to validate themselves.

  • roneida

    I want to be known as sensitive and caring instead of being anuslike

  • Don Lond

    Can we ban the word “choice” also, as the greatest offensive word and abberation against the ddignity of human life, ever?

    How about “rascist” I find it an offensive insult to truth?

    And then there is that faux self-congratulatory insult – “progressive.” Cancet progresses too. And then theire “the rich” as insult.

  • C. Luther

    Seriously???? With the problems this state is having this is what the legislature is wasting their time “working”on??? I agree it’s a rude word but people who have any manners don’t use it and those who do say it aren’t going to be stopped just because they say it’s a bad word. Time to get real people! No wonder this state is broke!!!

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