City council members in Berkeley, California, have voted to update their municipal codes with more inclusive language this week. The new ordinance will see the removal of gendered language such as "manhole" from city codes, with these terms being replaced by gender-neutral alternatives like "maintenance hole."
The changes were first proposed by council member Rigel Robinson. "There is power in language," Robinson tweeted after the ordinance was approved. "This is a small move, but it matters."
Tonight, Berkeley City Council adopted first reading of an ordinance responding to my proposal revising the municipal code to include gender neutral pronouns. There is power in language. This is a small move, but it matters. #berkmtg https://t.co/njo58NYgNw— Rigel Robinson (@RigelRobinson) July 17, 2019
"According to Code Publishing Company, the Berkeley Municipal Code currently contains mostly masculine pronouns," reads the official city council report. "In recent years, broadening societal awareness of transgender and gender nonconforming identities has brought to light the importance of non-binary gender inclusivity.... The League of California Cities saw the need to develop a best practices guide for city officials and city staff related to new state laws, policies, and practices that promote inclusive workplaces."
Other words being phased out include "manpower" (now "human effort" or "workforce"), "manmade" ("human made") and "fraternity" and "sorority" (to be replaced by "collegiate Greek system residence"). Job titles will be referred to heretofore in gender neutral terms, for instance "policeman" and "policewoman" will both become "police officer."
"In addition, gendered terms in the existing code such as he, she, him, her, himself, herself would be switched to specific nouns such as the architect, the attorney, the council member, the clerk, the driver and more," writes local journalist William Lundquist.
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