LANSING – Governor Rick Snyder has proclaimed today, March 5, 2014, as “Spread the Word to End the Word Day” in Michigan. The day will be devoted to educating and raising awareness of the positive impact individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have in our communities and why the use of the R-word, “retard(ed)”, is hurtful, even in casual conversation.
The Michigan House and Senate are also expected to pass resolutions today proclaiming March 5 as “Spread the Word to End the Word Day” in Michigan. Senator Rebekah Warren (D-18th District) and Bruce Caswell (R-16th District) sponsored the Senate Resolution. Representatives Gail Haines (R-43rd District), Matt Lori (R-59th District) and Phil Cavanagh (D-10th District) sponsored the House Resolution.
The Spread the Word to End the Word campaign is an ongoing national effort by Special Olympics and their supporters to raise the consciousness of society about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the R-word and encourages people to pledge to stop using it.
The campaign, created by youth with and without developmental disabilities, is intended to engage schools, organizations, and communities to rally and pledge their support at www.r-word.org with a goal of reaching 100,000 pledges.
The R-word exists in 17 state statutes at the present time, but bills are currently being put before the House and Senate to eradicate its use. Last month, the Mental Health and Wellness Commission, chaired by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, whose daughter has autism, released a 29-page report that included a recommendation to remove the word from state law.
Congress removed the R-word from various federal laws in 2010. And Michigan is one of only seven states that have yet to replace the word in state law.