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Washington is Now a Gender-Neutral State

“Freshmen” are now “first-year students”, “penmanship” is now “handwriting” and “fisherman” are now just “fisher.”  As hard as it is to believe, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill this week, the final piece of a six-year effort to rewrite state laws using gender-neutral vocabulary.  State lawmakers have passed a series of bills since 2007 to root out what they believe is gender bias from Washington statutes.    The new gender-neutral references, for example, include “journey-level plumber” instead of “journeyman plumber” and “signal operator” instead of “signalman.”    Nearly 3500 Washington State code sections, out of a total of about 40,000 have been scrubbed for so-called gender bias.   The bill passed the Democratic controlled house 70-22 and unanimously cleared the State Senate in February.    Washington State is the fourth state in the country to attempt to eliminate gender bias from its official lexicon.  Following Florida, North Carolina and Illinois.  At least 9 other states are currently considering gender neutral legislation, and 7 other states have passed gender-neutral constitutional mandates.

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