Berkeley to Ban “Gendered” Words from City Code, “Manhole” Now “Maintenance Hole”
The city of Berkeley, California is removing any “gendered” words from its city code in order to be more “inclusive.”
NBC News reports that words like “fireman” will now be “firefighter,” “manhole” will now be “maintenance hole,” “men and women” will be replaced with “people” and “man-made” will now be “artificial.”
Rigel Robinson, the city council member who championed the effort said, “It is Berkeley being Berkeley, and what that means is it’s Berkeley being inclusive. A male-centric municipal code doesn’t reflect the reality of the city of Berkeley.”
The change to the city code will cost $600 and is important, Robinson says, because “language has power.”
Recently, there has been a history of governments adopting a more gender-neutral approach in its official language.
Many governing bodies have taken up similar efforts. In 2008, the European Parliament adopted gender-neutral language. Canada’s Department of Justice uses gender-neutral language, saying not only is it respectful, but it’s also more accurate, and in 2018 the country changed lyrics in its national anthem “O Canada” to replace “all thy sons” with “all of us.”
In 2013, the Washington governor and now 2020 Democratic hopeful Jay Inslee signed a law in his state to adopt gender-neutral language. The law was part of a six-year effort by the state to pour through their legislation, replacing words like “fisherman” with “fisher.” Washington first passed a law in 1983 to write statutes with gender-neutral language when possible, in an effort to rid the state’s legislation of gender bias.
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