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Boston, MA – The Ruderman Family Foundation, an international leader in disability inclusion, has condemned Fort Ann Mayor Denis Langlois for his appalling comments, calling Democratic voters “retarded” and starting that they should sign themselves into a “Mental Health unit.” Despite insulting millions of people with disabilities, Langlois went on to defend his derogatory comments to America’s largest minority, claiming he didn’t care if they were to cause his removal from office.
“Mayor Langlois’ statement is derogatory, inappropriate, and hurtful,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “We teach our children not to demean disability or any other difference, and we must hold our public figures to this same standard.”
In a Facebook post, Langlois proclaimed: “If anyone that I know vote for a Democrat on Tuesday you should sign yourself into the Mental Health unit at your local Hospital because you are retarded and need help, Vote Republican and ‘Keep America Great’!”
“Approximately twenty percent of Americans have a mental health disability, and yet there is tremendous stigma around mental illness, preventing millions from accessing treatment that could save their lives,” Ruderman continued. “We must demand that our public figures eradicate stigma, not add flame to the fire.”
In a clear error of judgment, Mayor Langlois used people with mental illness explicitly as a means to degrade Democrats and was unable to see his error in judgement when questioned on it. The incident follows similar instances of derogatory comments to people with disabilities from other political leaders, which include President Trump’s mocking of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski during his electoral campaign, as well as Dr. Ben Carson’s and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ metaphorical slurs referring to the Republican Party as having a “mental disorder.” This shows once again how U.S. leaders fail to understand the impact such slurs have against people with disabilities and their families.
The Ruderman Family Foundation calls on Mayor Langlois to issue an immediate statement apologizing to people with mental illnesses and offers a series of sensitivity training sessions to help him better understand and increase awareness on advocacy towards people with disabilities.