Council to remove ‘retardation’ from Phila. city code

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Philadelphia City Council is moving to end the use of a word regarded as offensive in the mental health community from city law.

Councilman Dennis O’Brian says the use of the words “retardation” and “retard” is offensive and needs to be ended, so his bill would introduce the term “intellectual disability” to the city code.

“This is absolutely not political correctness,” O’Brien said. “This is recognizing individuals with great abilities and opportunities, and this is about taking pejorative, cruel, hurtful terms out of our lexicon and recognizing these people have value.”

Pennsylvania Special Olympics President Matt Aaron said the name change matters to those with intellectual disabilities.

“Not to give them something special, not to give them a handout of special treatment,” Aaron said, “but instead to remove a barrier to allow them to go on and do and be and achieve their full potential just as any other citizen would do.”

The bill now goes to the full council for approval and then to the mayor for his signature. The city has already changed the name of the Office of Mental Retardation Services to Intellectual Disability Services.

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