Schumer apologizes for term describing developmentally disabled children: ‘Outdated and hurtful’

Bonnie Cash

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is apologizing for using an “inappropriate and outdated” term to refer to young people with disabilities.

Schumer, during an interview on the OneNYCHA podcast on Sunday, used the word “retarded” when talking about previous attempts to build communities for people with disabilities, sparking criticism.

“When I first was assemblyman, they wanted to build a congregate living place for retarded children. The whole neighborhood was against it. These are harmless kids, they just needed some help,” Schumer said.

A spokesman for Schumer said in a statement to The Hill early Tuesday that the majority leader is “sincerely sorry for his use of the outdated and hurtful language.”

“For decades, Sen. Schumer has been an ardent champion for enlightened policy and full funding of services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” the spokesman said.

“He used an inappropriate and outdated word in his description of an effort he supported that was led by the AHRC to build a group home in his Brooklyn district decades ago to provide housing and services to children with developmental disabilities,” the spokesman added.

The spokesman noted that the AHRC was previously known as the Association for the Help of Retarded Children.

Former President Obama in October 2010 signed Rosa’s Law, which called for removing the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from federal health, education and labor policy and replacing the phrases with “individual with an intellectual disability” and “intellectual disability,” according to the Special Olympics.

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