Michigan to Remove ‘R-Word’ From State Laws

Posted at 9:28 PM, Mar 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-06 05:19:03-05

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.