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RED BANK: GENDER NEUTRALITY ON AGENDA

red-bank-borough-hall-110322-1-500x375-7883246The borough will provide employee training “to facilitate greater understanding of genderneutral options in communications,” according to a resolution.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot-topic_03-220x138-220x138-7378486An effort to infuse gender-neutral language into the workings of Red Bank government is on the council agenda Wednesday night.

A resolution (23-54) up for consideration at the council’s semimonthly meeting calls for gender-neutral terminology in “official written and verbal communications.”

Councilmember Jacqueline Sturdivant brought up a related issue for the first time at the council’s January 11 meeting.

“We’re moving toward gender-neutral titles for council, which is essentially going to be ‘councilmember,'” she said. The change, she said, “provides a bit of equity and people being able to share their abilities and make contributions to the organization.”

The resolution, which was not previously discussed in public, goes further. Under its terms, the borough’s “officers and staff, including members of boards, commissions, and committees, shall strive to use gender-neutral language, whenever possible and practicable, in official documents and non-verbal communications pertaining to the Borough and official Borough business.”

“The Borough will provide training to facilitate greater understanding of genderneutral options in communications,” it reads.

The use of gender-neutral language in communications will help reduce gender stereotyping, promote social change and contribute to gender equality, the resolution says.

Another aim of the change “is to avoid word choices that may be interpreted as biased, discriminatory, or demeaning by implying that one sex or social gender is the norm,” the text states.

Though no examples of gender-neutral terms appear in the resolution, it says the borough code – its ordinances – will be updated “to replace instances of gender specific language with appropriate gender-neutral language.”

Since 2021, New Jersey has given motorists the option of ‘X’ as a gender designation on driver’s licenses, in addition to ‘M’ (male) and ‘F’ (female).

“This is offered not only to New Jersey residents who identify as non-binary, but for anyone who prefers that their gender not be specified on their license or ID,” the state Motor Vehicle Commission said in announcing the change.

Here’s the full agenda, with proposed resolution included. The council meets at 6:30 p.m. at borough hall, 90 Monmouth Street. Remote participation is also available, via Zoom connection.

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