Pennsylvania ends use of the R-word

red speech bubble with white punctuation marks signifying a censored word

Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett signed a bill into law December 19 ending the use of the word “retardation” in state statutes.

The bill, called the “Words do Matter” bill, passed the state House and Senate unanimously.

“Many individuals in the general public may not understand the importance of this legislation. When we use stereotypic and dehumanizing language regarding people with disabilities, we are prone to then treat those individuals differently,” said Bill Chrisner of the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania in a Philadelphia Inquirer article. “Negative language leads to negative attitudes and subsequent discriminatory behavior.”

President Barack Obama signed a similar bill, called Rosa’s law, at the federal level into law last year.

For more information on language involving people with disabilities, see here.

The Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania is part of the federally funded protection and advocacy system and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.