Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rosa's Law is a Good First Step

Over the past two years, youth activists within the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign have secured nearly 140,000 online pledges from schools and communities across the country, setting off a national conversation about humiliating speech and the language of discrimination. It is not hard to see the fingerprints of thousands of youth activists, so athletes, and the families and communities on the passage of Rosa's Law this week, which is now on its way to the President for his signature.

I know I join millions of Americans in hoping for a quick signature by the President, and I also join them in recognizing that changing statutory language is not the end. The debate over language is only an opening to a discussion about attitude change and authentic inclusion. Our part at Special Olympics is promoting unity on the playing field and in communities through sport. We're committed to engaging millions more in the U.S. and around the world.

Critics who say that changing words can not solve problems are right. But it's a good start.

Congratulations to Senators Barbara Mikulski and Michael Enzi, and all the 72 co-sponsors across party lines, on this important accomplishment. Rosa's law is an historic triumph of self-advocacy and youth advocacy on behalf of our country's most vulnerable. This may be a first, but it won't be the last!


  1. I'm so happy that this law will hopefully be passed. At least, there will be a discussion now, because it's been put in front of President Obama.

  2. so happy to hear of the progress of Rosa's law-we need to put an end to the use of the "R" word-
    your mother would be very proud of your commitment & dedication to this most OUTSTANDING organization

  3. Tim,
    Actually changing words does change behavior, so in that sense it CAN solve problems. There is plenty of writing and research in the cognitive science and language and memory fields of study to document that the words people use change how they think and therefore how they behave.

    So,'s to using words that feel expansive and inclusive and descriptive rather than limiting, excluding, and prejorative.