Florida Legislature Passes Senate Bill 142 Unanimously
April 30, 2013
Tallahassee, FL (April 30, 2013) – Floridians with intellectual disabilities are asking Governor Rick Scott to sign the Intellectual Disabilities Bill into law after the Florida House of Representatives unanimously passed the measure today. It will remove the phrase “mental retardation” in state statutes and replace it with “intellectual disabilities.”
“I’m excited about the changes,” said Brittany Norman, a woman with Down Syndrome from Leon County who testified in favor of the bill at a House committee meeting earlier this month. “Over the years, many people have called me a retard, and it makes me feel empty inside.”
Norman was in the House gallery when the final vote was taken. “Thank you Sen. Altman, Rep. Adkins and the entire Legislature,” said Norman. “You are my heroes.”
Senate Bill 142 was sponsored by Sen. Thad Altman (R-Melbourne.) House Bill 1119, which was replaced by SB 142 after unanimous passage in the Full Senate last week, was sponsored by Rep. Janet Adkins (R-Fernandina Beach.)
“We launched the End the R-word in Florida campaign after so many people we serve asked for a change,” said Michele Poole, president of The Arc of Florida. “Governor Scott has an opportunity to do something that at least 39 other states have done. He can sign this bill into law and help end the bullying that thousands of Floridians with intellectual disabilities face every day.”
Once considered a valid medical term, the R-word has become a hurtful slang that promotes negative stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities. The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and American Psychiatric Association changed their official diagnoses from "mental retardation" to "intellectual disability."
Federal health, education and labor policy statutes were changed in 2010 when Congress passed and President Obama signed "Rosa's Law." The Social Security Administration recently announced its intent to make the change to its official "Listing of Impairments."
For more information on the End the R-word in Florida campaign, visit www.norword.org.