Council takes first steps to making County Code Gender-Neutral

Unanimous support for making changes to gendered pronouns and historically gendered terms.

  • Tuesday, December 5, 2017 12:22pm
  • News

The following is a press release from The King County Council.

In 2016, County voters supported a change to King County’s “Constitution,” the King County Charter, replacing gender specific terms with gender neutral language.

The Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously adopted the first step toward removing gendered terms wherever possible, thereby rendering the County Code gender-neutral.

“The voters have spoken; they want to see the King County Code reflect the inclusive values of our community,” said King County Council member Claudia Balducci. “With this action, we continue to advance King County’s values of fairness and inclusiveness by reflecting them in our governing documents.”

The charter amendment approved by the voters adjust identifications such as “Councilman” and “Chairman,” to gender-specific neutral terms such as “Council member” and “Chair.” A motion that was adopted as part of the charter amendment directed the clerk of the council to develop options for how to apply gender-neutral references throughout the King County Code. Today’s ordinance was the first step toward achieving that goal.

Gendered pronouns such as he, him, she, or her are replaced with the title of the actor in impacted sentences. One example would be replacing “he or she” and “his or her” with “the individual” and “the individual’s” respectively.

“Updating code language is important to keep terminology proper and respectful of all people,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert.

The adopted ordinance is consistent with legislation adopted at the state level in both 1983 and in 2007, which was sponsored by then-Senator Kohl-Welles, concerning the use of gender-neutral language in the Revised Code of Washington.

“Language matters as we work toward equity and representation for all people,” said Council member Jeanne Kohl-Welles. “Referring to females as generic males or Council members as Councilmen doesn’t cut it. Gender-neutral language was adopted by the federal government decades ago by state in the past ten years ago. King County can do it, too. I began working on gender-neutral language during my tenure in the Legislature and am pleased to work with Council members Balducci and Lambert in carrying it forward at the County.”

This is the first revision of the County Code. The next steps will include the development regulations (surface water, roads, construction codes, zoning, etc.) and then the remainder of the Titles.

More in News

Wildfire smoke fills the sky Aug. 15 while temperatures remain in the high 80s to low 90s. Photo by Sarah Brenden.
Air quality alert for Puget Sound region due to wildfire smoke

Poor air quality is expected through Thursday, Aug. 23.

King County bans solitary confinement of juveniles

Policy shift comes as part of a settlement in response to a 2017 lawsuit

Photos courtesy the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority.
Crews work to extinguish brush fire near Covington

The fire was first reported Sunday around 4 p.m. and is currently 10-12 acres in size.

Robert Morrison enters guilty plea to all charges

The former martial arts studio owner remains in custody. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 21.

Selective thinning at King County’s Black Diamond Open Space

Crowded former timber plantation forestland now managed by King County Parks for recreational use and fish and wildlife habitat is about to get some much-needed work to improve forest health.

Bonney Lake family raises awareness of Sudden Cardiac Arrest dangers

A Bonney Lake family is raising awareness of the prevalent dangers of sudden cardiac arrest in the military.

Levy money to aid local senior programs

Nearly $3.5 million in funding has been made available for 38 organizations… Continue reading

MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter
                                Teachers assemble in front of the Kent School District Office, listening to Lisa Brackin, an ELL teacher at Mill Creek Middle School, at the rally.
Kent teachers rally for better pay as negotiations reach critical stage | Update

Union, district gather in last planned bargaining session; talks bring no resolution; strike remains a possibility

Maple Valley man sentenced to prison for money laundering

Raymond Uadiale pled guilty in connection with the spread of a ransomware referred to as “Reveton.”

Most Read