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On the first day of 2021 new rules were outlined for gender neutral language in the U.S. Congress. A press release from the House Committee on Rules outlined details of the package that is meant to promote inclusion and diversity. The release said a few changes would be made. They include:

  • establishing the Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth
  • requiring standing committees to include in their oversight plans
  • adressing issues of inequities on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, age, or national origin
  • honoring all gender identities by changing pronouns and familial relationships in the House rules to be gender neutral speech
  • making the Office of Diversity and Inclusion permanent to facilitate a diverse workforce “that is reflective of our Members and the districts they represent”
  • surveying the diversity of witness panels at committee hearings to include diverse groups of experts when crafting legislation

Digging deeper, we found these examples on Congress’ new inclusive language list:

 

U.S. Congress’ New Gender Neutral Language

  • “himself” and “herself” will be replaced with “themself”
  • “chairman” will become “chair”
  • “seamen” will be replaced with “seafarers”
  • “mother”, “father”, “daughter”, “son”, “sister”, and “brother” will be replaced with terms like “parent”, “child”, and “sibling”
  • “submit his or her resignation” will be replaced with “resign”
  • “he or she serves” and “he or she holds” will be replaced with ‘‘such Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner” serves or holds
  • “Office of the Whistleblower Ombudsman” will become “Office of the Whistleblower Ombuds”

 

Congress Controversy on New Gender Neutral Language

There has been some opposition to the changes for gender-neutral language in Congress. Representative Guy Reschenthaler tweeted:

“The prayer to open the 117th Congress ended with “amen and a-women.” Amen is Latin for “so be it.” It’s not a gendered word. Unfortunately, facts are irrelevant to progressives. Unbelievable.”

GOP leader Kevin McCarthy also tweeted his thoughts on the gender natural language list:

 

The new inclusive language list is also backed by many.

The Hill reported that these gender neutral language examples are being put into place because of an increase in LGBTQ+ lawmakers joining the new Congress. The Hill said:

“the latest rules acknowledge a spectrum of gender identities as well as same-sex relationships. Still, there are no nonbinary representatives in either the House or the Senate, and the nation’s first openly nonbinary lawmaker was elected just last year.”

House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern was quoted in the Advocate about gender-neutral language saying:

“We made this change for the sake of inclusion, not exclusion,” said House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, according to The Hill. McGovern is a Democrat from Massachusetts; Democrats hold the House majority. The rules package was approved 217-206, along party lines.”

In the official press release announcing the changes to gender neutral speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said:

“Thanks to the leadership of Chairman McGovern and our members, Democrats have crafted a package of unprecedented, bold reforms, which will make the House more accountable, transparent and effective in our work to meet the needs of the American people.  These future-focused proposals reflect our priorities as a caucus and as a country — including crushing the coronavirus, addressing economic disparity, combating the climate crisis, advancing inclusion, and promoting integrity in government.”

 

Why I wrote this

Ongig’s Text Analyzer software helps eliminate unconscious bias. It finds offensive/exclusionary words and gives you recommendations to replace them using gender neutral language. We’d be happy to analyze your jobs to show you examples of LGBTQ inclusive language and gender inclusive terms. Wouldn’t you prefer to find bias before your candidates do!?

 

Shout-Outs

  1. Gender-Neutral Language Is More Than a Word Game (by Jason L. Riley)
  2. No more ‘he’ or ‘she’. House approves gender-neutral terms in its official language (by Bailey Aldridge)
  3. House introduces gender-neutral language in new rules for Congress (by Anagha Srikanth)
  4. Pelosi and McGovern Unveil Details of Rules Package for the 117th Congress (by House Committee on Rules)
  5. U.S. House Adopts Gender-Neutral Language for Rules Document (by Trudy Ring)

by in Diversity and Inclusion