Washington state moves towards a gender-neutral language bill

By Alexi Knock,

Washington state officials are working to get words like “policemen” and “firemen” and thousands of others out and put gender-neutral words in.

For several years, the officials have attempted to change thousands of words to terms like “firefighter,” which includes women in the work force. Most of the words like “penmanship” were written over 100 years ago when women rarely had their many roles of today.

State officials have an over 500-page bill that aims officially accept words like “security guard” and “hand-writing” this year.

Seattle Council member Sally Clark told The Associated Press, "Some people would say 'oh, it's not a big thing, do you really have to go through the process of changing the language. But language matters. It's how we signal a level of respect for each other."

About 25 states have already made changes to revise their language choices, while Florida and Minnesota took official steps to change their languages like Washington.

Crispin Thurlow, a sociolinguist and associate professor of language and communication at the University of Washington-Bothell, told The Associated Press, “Changing words can change what we think about the world around us. These tiny moments accrue and become big movements."

Some Twitter followers believe that Washington should be focusing on other gender issues.

One user tweeted, “Rather than address pay inequality or discrimination in employment, Washington state is focusing on gender-neutral language in its laws.”

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