Quincy councilor pushes gender-neutral language in city codes

QUINCY — Chief City Councilor Nina Liang has called for council rules and all city codes to be changed to include gender-neutral language.

“It’s really outdated right now, and as we update our city, we should probably update the rules that govern it,” she said. “It’s really just a cleanup and an update to our codes.”

City councilors voted this week to send the request to the Ordinances Committee for discussion and a vote.

In recent years, communities across the country have decided to change laws to make them more inclusive. Many, especially those from older East Coast communities, only use male pronouns in the statutes. Local changes include the change from “selector councils” to “selected councils”.

More than 60 Massachusetts cities have renamed their most powerful councils with gender-neutral titles in the past two years. Once the most common title for senior city officials in the state, selector councils now represent less than half of local leaders, dropping from 216 in June 2019 to 154 in March 2021.

Mayor Thomas Koch delivers his State of the City address outside Quincy Hall on Hancock-Adams Common, Tuesday, March 9, 2021.

At the state level, the Massachusetts Selectmen’s Association became the Massachusetts Select Board Association, and state Senator Will Brownsberger, D-Belmont, introduced a bill last year that would replace all mentions of ” selectmen” in the state constitution by “select board”. “

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Proponents of the change pointed to the use of “man” or “men” in titles as occasional gender bias, and said the gender-specific term is a subtle disincentive for women to run for the highest local office. .

Some communities in the United States have removed gender words that do not refer to people.

The municipal code in Berkeley, California, for example, no longer has words like “manhole” and “labour”, and instead uses “maintenance hole” and “human effort” or ” workforce”. The measure passed unanimously in 2019 and replaced more than two dozen mandates.

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Milford Daily News reporter Alison Bosma contributed to this report. Contact Mary Whitfill at [email protected]

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