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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: April 9, 2019 04:04 PM
From: Representative Patrick J. Harkins
To: All House members
Subject: Eliminating Derogatory Terms from the Public School Code
Can you believe that, in the 21st century, Pennsylvania has a law that uses words such as crippled, defective, disturbed, handicapped and retarded to describe children with mental health issues or physical or developmental disabilities? I can’t believe it either, which is why I am introducing a bill that would remove these derogatory terms from the Public School Code.
Over the past few decades, Pennsylvania has taken steps to establish an inclusive classroom environment for students with mental health issues and disabilities. Overall, inclusion efforts have had successful outcomes, promoted awareness, and created new opportunities for students. However, we have yet to remove these derogatory terms from the law. As studies have shown, the use of certain words and phrases maintain the stigma that surrounds mental health issues and disabilities. It is time to update our laws accordingly.
As a legislative body, it is our duty to lead by example and delegitimize derogatory words by eliminating them from our laws. Please join me in making Pennsylvania a more inclusive place for all students.

Introduced as HB1196