No more manholes in California's Berkeley as use of gendered names is officially banned

A city in California is banning the use of some long-standing English words in favour of gender-neutral alternatives.

Berkeley's council passed the first reading of the proposal which would officially remove the use of gender-specific language from its municipal code.

Amongst the recommended changes, "manhole" will now be "maintenance hole", "manpower" will be replaced with "human effort" or "workforce", all fire service staff will known as "firefighters" and sororities and fraternities will now go by "Collegiate Greek system residences".

Council member Rigel Robinson said in his proposal that this legislation is an important step towards a truly inclusive governing body.

"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 proposal also includes a long list of replacements for the terms "He, She, Him, Her, Himself and Herself" for commonly used references such as "The Tenant" and "The Officer".

Meanwhile, issues around gender-awareness and inclusivity in New Zealand have, so far,  been largely centred around the education system.

In February, more than 30,000 people signed a petition to stop the teaching of gender diversity in New Zealand schools.

While in July, the New Zealand School Trustees Association called for the abolishment of gendered uniforms in schools after Wales implemented the policy in their school system.  

Outside of schools, New Zealanders will be given the option of providing their own description of their gender in Stats NZ's upcoming Household Economic Survey for the first time.


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