Illinois legislators have joined a nationwide effort to retire the word "retarded" from law books. Measures that would wipe the offensive term from state statutes recently sailed through both chambers of the General Assembly.
The phrase "mentally retarded" was scratched from federal law in October 2010, and replaced with "intellectually disabled." President Barack Obama signed Rosa's Law in honor of an 8-year-old Maryland girl diagnosed with Down syndrome who helped to change the wording of her state's laws.
Since the federal law change, a national movement called "Spread the Word to End the Word," has been mobilizing change at the state level and encouraging people to pledge not to use the word "retard."
One advocacy group involved in the movement, the Arc of Illinois, inspired state Rep. Emily McAsey, D-Lockport, to propose the House bill.
The other chamber gave the go-ahead to a broader measure sponsored by state Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine. Murphy's measure would replace every instance of "crippled" in the state's books with the term "physically disabled."
Both bills (SB1833 and HB2976) need approval from the second chamber.