SB 367, a measure to further scrub the words ‘mentally retarded’ from statute, was introduced last week by Senator Peggy Lehner and Senator Eric Kearney. The bill recommends changing all usages of the words ‘mentally retarded’ in the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) to the words ‘intellectual disability,’ ‘developmental disability,’ or other similar language. Although the General Assembly enacted a similar measure in 2009 (SB79), which ultimately changed the name of the Ohio Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities to the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, the two words still appear in portions of law.
Senator Lehner noted, “Though we, as a culture, have long accepted that the terminology ‘mental retardation’ is outdated and insensitive, this is not yet fully reflected in Ohio law. The time has come for Ohio to recognize the rights of people with intellectual disabilities by striking stigmatizing language from our state law and joining many other states which have already done so.” The new bill would provide an exception to the language change in a few instances where ORC must mirror federal law.