Schumer refers to developmentally disabled children as 'retarded'

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, apologized on Monday after he used the word “retarded” in reference to developmentally disabled children during a podcast interview.

Schumer used the outdated term during a segment on Sunday’s episode of the 1 NYCHA podcast regarding congressional efforts to combat homelessness. When a co-host mentioned that some initiatives for sheltering homeless people have faced resistance in New York City, Schumer brought up the Biden administration’s proposed “American Rescue Plan,” as well as his own past experiences as a politician encountering opposition to housing proposals. 

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

The word Schumer used is widely considered to be outdated, with some sources referring to its usage as a slur. In 2010, former President Barack Obama approved “Rosa’s Law,” which replaced the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in federal law and policy.

A representative for Schumer said the senator apologized for his word choice, acknowledging it was “inappropriate and outdated.”

“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 spokesperson said in a statement. 

“He is sincerely sorry for his use of the outdated and hurtful language,” the statement added.

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