In a move that some call silly, Washington state is removing 40,000 pieces of legislation that contain gender-biased words such as fisherman, freshman, and journeyman plumber.
New laws will come into effect this week finally implementing the state’s six year effort to rewrite all state laws using gender-neutral vocabulary. Terms such as fisherman, freshman, and policeman will be reworded to fisher, first-year student, and police officer.
Lawmakers have passed a series of bills since 2007 in order to root out gender bias from Washington statutes, beginning with a 1983 state mandate requiring all laws be written in gender-neutral terms.
A measure approved by the Legislature earlier this year mandated that references to ‘his’ be changed to ‘his or her.’ Other nouns like ‘clergyman’ must be changed to ‘clergy.’
However terms such as mankind will remain, since they don’t actually specify a gender. Other terms such as airmen and seaman will remain as well, because of the objections made by the Washington Military Department. Manhole and manlock have no common sense substitutes that were readily found, and are here to stay too.
Over 40,000 pieces of legislation will be re-written with the new terms in mind, and of course at the expense of the tax payers.