Calling for the resignation of Mary Lazare, ACL's Principal Deputy Administrator
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U.S. Department of HHS' Administration for Community Living (ACL) Principal Deputy Administrator Mary Lazare was reported by Disability Scoop to have made several comments about "segregation" and "reinstitutionalization" of people with disabilities on July 11, 2018. Lazare went onto social media site Twitter later that day, rather than giving a formal statement, and apologized for her statements.
Lazare reportedly expressed these assertions at both an Autism Society conference in Bethesda, Maryland, and again at another conference in Oxford Hill, Maryland, for the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities.
Lazare's tweet, which was posted on the ACL's public account, read:
"Mary Lazare: I regret & apologize for my words at #ASAconf18. ACL believes ppl w/disabilities have the right & choice to live in the community. We work to expand those opptys & are 100% committed to that mission. We also recognize Olmstead gives people the right to other choices."
Representatives Gregg Harper (R-MS), Jim Langevin (D-RI), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) addressed these comments in a letter to Lance Robertson, Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging and ACL's Administrator. Due to Lazare's comment mentioning Olmstead as a choice rather than a right in her Twitter post, these representatives are concerned about Lazare's understanding of the Olmstead decision, as well as her understanding of community-based care as a whole.
Additionally, in February 2018, President Donald Trump made comments about “nabbing” people with mental illnesses who have committed no crime but who seem suspicious. See article from Politico. Lazare was appointed to her post at the Administration for Community Living by President Donald Trump in June 2017.
The disability rights movement has been growing at an especially increased speed in the new millennium. It is concerning to anyone within the disability community to hear that a person who should be representing and protecting us is making such remarks. Considering Lazare's professional history, we should expect better.
We can do better.
We are requesting that Mary Lazare resign from her post, as it is the ethical and moral thing to do in light of her comments. Independent living is important to people with disabilities as well as aging seniors, and we need someone who's got our back. Discriminationatory comments in any form should not be tolerated by HHS.
It is important that we send a message about this type of ableist rhetoric and demand respect in all areas of our lives.
In lieu of resignation, we are requesting a formal apology from Mary Lazare.
UPDATE 8/3/2018: Comments by Lance Robertson, Administrator of ACL, were reported by Disability Scoop. Click here for the article as well as my comments.
Nothing About Us, Without Us
Please note that this petition does not infer that Representatives Gregg Harper (R-MS), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), or Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) have endorsed the idea of Ms. Lazare's resignation. This is an independently-led petition by people of the disability community.
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