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Washington moves toward elimination of remaining “sexually outdated” language from statutes

April 12th, 2013  |  Deborah Hammonds

The state of Washington is moving toward completely embracing the use of gender neutral language in state statutes. On April 9, the Washington House passed SB 5077, which directs the state to replace sexually outdated terms in the statutes with gender neutral language.

While Washington has required gender neutral language for all laws since 1983, references to the male gender, such as he and him, remained in laws written prior to 1983. The bill, sponsored by state Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, directs the replacement of terms such as ombudsman with ombuds, fireman with fire tender, or fisherman with fisher. He becomes he or she, him become him or her.

The measure passed by a vote of 70-22. Having passed both chambers without amendment, the legislation goes directly to Governor Jay Inslee for his signature.