By Will Hall, Message Executive Editor
BERKLEY, Calif. (LBM) – In the 1960s, Berkley, California, was known as the epicenter of the countercultural revolution. In 2019, the city has become the center of a movement to ban gender-specific language, including the word “manhole” which must now be referred to as a “maintenance hole” because of an ordinance passed July 23.
The move will replace all gendered language from the municipal code, according to the measure’s sponsor Rigel Robinson, a 23-year- old councilman and recent graduate of U.C. Berkley, in an effort to avoid bias against non-binary persons (those who do not identify as either male or female).
City manager Dee Williams-Ridley concurred with the measure, explaining in a memorandum to the council that the “broadening societal awareness of transgender and gender-nonconforming identities has brought to light the importance of non-binary, gender inclusivity.”
“Firemen” will be referred to instead as “firefighters,” and, “policemen” will be addressed as “police officers.”
References to women will be abolished as well: “Pregnant woman” will become “pregnant employee.”
Likewise, all pronouns which identify the sex of a person will be changed: “He” and “she” will be replaced with “they” and “them,” for example, ac-cording to a chart included in the ordinance.
In 2018, the California Assembly attempted to make the language in state policies and regulations gender-neutral, but the measure did not make it through the legislative process.