May 1, 2018

Assembly Passes Legislation to Eliminate the Use of Gendered Language for Police Officers and Firefighters In New York State Law

New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Jo Ann Simon today announced passage of legislation (A.08321-C) to update antiquated language in state law, making references to police officers and firefighters gender neutral.

"Women make up an important part of our police force and fire houses, and it's time New York State laws reflect that," Speaker Heastie said. "This updated language demonstrates our respect and appreciation for all of our first responders - regardless of gender."

"The use of the gendered language 'fireman' or 'policeman' is antiquated and inaccurate, suggesting to young girls and young boys alike that law enforcement and firefighting are only open to men," said Assemblymember Simon, who sponsored the bill. "Using gender neutral language acknowledges the brave female firefighters and police officers who risk their lives to keep us safe every day. This simple update to our state laws can cause a profound change in how we perceive these professions and can help us create a more inclusive safety force."

The legislation would make references to first responders gender neutral, replacing all references to "fireman" or "policeman," with "firefighter" or "police officer." The use of gendered language for professions is antiquated and inaccurate, and promotes an outdated worldview suggesting that women are not suited to those professions. The use of gender-neutral language reflects that professions that were once seen as ontraditional for women are open and appeal to people regardless of their gender.