New York may make 'fireman' and 'policeman' terms gender-neutral

The New York state Legislature passed a bill Tuesday that would change "fireman" and "policeman" to more gender-neutral terms, the Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester reported.

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The bill would change the wording to “firefighter” and “police officer” in all references in state laws and in official documents, the newspaper reported.

The bill was sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for final approval.

“Women make up an important part of our police force and fire houses, and it’s time New York state laws reflect that,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, said in a statement. “This updated language demonstrates our respect and appreciation for all of our first responders, regardless of gender.”

New York has had female police officers since the early 1900s. The New York City Fire Department hired its first woman in 1982, the Democrat and Chronicle reported.

The bill would eliminate the use of male pronouns in state laws.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are about 58,000 local female police officers in the United States.

Peter Kehoe, executive director of the state Sheriffs' Association, said he opposes the change.

“For thousands of years the term 'man,' used in the general sense, has meant 'human,' not specifically someone of the male gender,” he said in a statement. “So it is inaccurate to say that 'policeman' or 'fireman' is 'gendered language' which must be erased from the law.”

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