Assembly Panel Approves Vainieri Huttle Bill to Remove Offensive Language Used in State Statutes to Refer to Individuals with Mental Health Conditions
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) to rid state statutes of archaic and derogatory language used to describe people with developmental, cognitive or psychiatric disabilities was approved Monday by an Assembly committee.
“Words hurt and can inflict great pain. At one point these terms may have been acceptable, but they are not today,” said Vainieri Huttle. “Individuals living with mental illness deserve respect and dignity. Removing these offensive terms from our statutes will hopefully reduce the stigma associated with mental health conditions and shift the focus to recovery.”
The bill (A-3357) deletes references to pejorative and archaic language used in the state statutes to refer to persons with developmental, cognitive or psychiatric disabilities. Terms such as “lunatic,” “insane,” “unsound mind,” and “incompetent,” when used pejoratively, have been replaced with more respectful language that refer to a person’s mental capacity. The replacement of these derogatory terms does not change the meaning of the various sections of the law amended by the bill.