Ending the Use of the "R" Word - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Ending the Use of the "R" Word

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A bill that would change certain words in all state statutes and consequently change the lives of many, is making it's way to the House Rules Committee. It is receiving support from not only Panhandle representatives, but students as well.

Tyler Creamer is an adventurous 20 year-old with a large vocabulary, but there's one word that's not in it.

"We're not retarded. We like special. We're special people," says Tyler Creamer, a student at Chautauqua Learning Center.

It's an "R" word that brings back hurtful memories for Tyler.

"On the bus, when I was in 10th grade, a kid said "I don't want to sit with this kid because this kid is retarded." It makes me feel empty inside," says Creamer.

Tuesday, Tyler testified before the Health and Human Services Committee of the Florida House in support of House Bill 1119, the Intellectual Disabilities Bill. A bill that, if passed, would change the use of the phrase "mental retardation" to "intellectual disabilities" everywhere in State Statutes, something Tyler's teacher says needs to be done.

"The word retardation was at one point a very valid medical diagnosis, and like all language, language changes as people use it. When it became a mean word or a hurtful word, then it had to go," says Mar Pat Zebroski, who works with Tyler at Chautauqua Learning Center. "It has to be gone from our State Legislature. It has to be gone from any official documents."

With strong testimony from Tyler, the bill unanimously passed the committee and the Senate version passed as well. Now, hopefully the only "R" words used to describe Tyler are responsible and remarkable.

"I know that I can get to bed every night and say I did it," says Creamer.

Also included in the bill is changing the Association for Retarded Citizens to The Florida Arc.