Delegate: Strip ‘mental retardation’ from state code

Posted at 4:09 PM, Jan 27, 2012
and last updated 2012-01-29 13:50:41-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - At the General Assembly one delegate is pushing for a change in quality of life, by trying to strike the words “mental retardation” from the state code.

Republican Delegate T. Scott Garrett is looking to mirror a federal law to eliminate the term he considers insulting, with a less offensive term.

“Everywhere there is the word 'mental retardation,' it changes that to 'intellectual disability,'" said Garrett.

In 2010, President Barack Obama signed legislation requiring the government make the changes on the federal level.

And here in Virginia, Garrett is sponsoring a bill to do the same here.

Under the law, "mental retardation" would be stripped from the state codes.

“This just brings the code up to date, it brings us into the 21st century,” said Garrett.

The proposed bill comes on the heels of a recent rally, nearly two weeks ago when hundreds gathered at the Virginia Capitol in an effort to boost funding and improve mental health services for Virginians.

Garrett hopes Virginians will again rally lawmakers to remove what he calls hurtful language.

“I can’t imagine that there is someone who believes that we ought to be continuing to have more aged moniker and a more archaic way of thinking things,” said Garrett.  “What you call people is often times how you think of them.”

The bill is on an uncontested calendar, but could move to the regular calendar if any lawmaker wants to discuss the bill in further detail.