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California City Votes To Use Gender-Neutral Terms In Local Government

California City Votes To Use Gender-Neutral Terms In Local Government

The proposed changes will now go to a second vote later this month

Dominic Smithers

Dominic Smithers

Legislators in a Californian city are proposing to introduce gender-neutral terms to make the workplace a more inclusive space.

Berkeley City Council passed an ordinance which could see terms such as 'he' and 'she' removed from local government and replaced by 'they' and 'them'.

The piece of legislation, which was passed unanimously at the first reading, would also see terms such as 'manhole' and 'pregnant woman' become 'maintenance hole' and 'pregnant employee'.

According to the list of proposed changes, the words 'brother' and 'sister' will simply be changed to 'sibling'.

The council voted unanimously to pass the proposed changes.
Google Street View

A memo published alongside the motion said it was an important step in encouraging greater inclusivity.

It read: "In recent years, broadening societal awareness of transgender and gender-nonconforming identities has brought to light the importance of non-binary gender inclusivity.

"Therefore, it is both timely and necessary to make the environment of City Hall and the language of city legislation consistent with the principles of inclusion."

The city of Berkeley has a long tradition of leading liberal issues, but if this latest proposal is passed at the next reading - 23 July - it would be one of the first such laws to be passed in the US.

Council documents include around 24 changes, including manpower which will become 'human effort' or 'workforce', while 'man-made' will be swapped for any one of several alternatives, such as 'human-made', 'manufactured', 'synthetic', 'artificial', or 'machine made'.

The proposed changes.
City of Berkeley

The ordinance was sponsored by council member Rigel Robinson, a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, who originally submitted a request in March for Berkeley to alter its code.

Backing the move, he said his time at college inspired him to try and make a difference.

The 23-year-old said: "Gender-neutral language creates a lot of room to acknowledge that it's not just men running the country."

This vote means the council has changed its municipal code. It must now go to a second vote before becoming law. However, as it was passed unanimously, it is unlikely that it will be blocked.

A similar proposal had previously been motioned by councillors in King County, Washington proposed a similar policy last year, but it wasn't as popular as hoped.

Hitting out at the move, one person wrote on Twitter: "I've gotta say as a female engineer in Seattle, I really don't give a crap what you call a utility access point."

Featured Image Credit: Google Street View

Topics: Interesting, US News, Free to Be