Contact: Alec Zimmerman

[Madison, WI]  Yesterday, the Wisconsin State Assembly and Senate passed a bill that would remove the use of the phrase “mental retardation” and its derivatives from all state administrative code. The bill, authored by Rep. John Jagler and Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, replaces the R-word with the phrase “intellectual disability.”

Senator Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) released the following statement:

“This action by the Legislature provides a permanent fix to banning this offensive language from Wisconsin’s administrative code once and for all. I want to thank Rep. Jagler for his work on this bill in the Assembly, and I look forward to Governor Evers signing this important legislation into law.” 

Representative John Jagler (R-Watertown) added:

“The word has morphed into a pejorative term and it needs to be replaced with terminology that is not offensive. The state shouldn’t be using words or phrases that make those with intellectual disabilities feel like they are less valuable than other citizens.”

In 2011 Act 126 was signed into law, deleting the offensive phrase from all state statutes. However, this offensive terminology can still be found in the state’s administrative code in rules promulgated by numerous state agencies. Senate Bill 19 substitutes the phrase “intellectual disability,” striking the offensive phrase.

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