Because what better use of Washington state taxpayer time and money is there than ensuring gender-neutral verbiage in existing laws?
Via KomoNews, emphasis allll mine:
Over the past six years, state officials have engaged in the onerous task of changing the language used in the state's copious laws, including thousands of words and phrases, many written more than a century ago when the idea of women working on police forces or on fishing boats wasn't a consideration.
That process is slated to draw to a close this year. So while the state has already welcomed "firefighters," ''clergy" and "police officers" into its lexicon, "ombuds" (in place of ombudsman) and "security guards" (previously "watchmen,") appear to be next, along with "dairy farmers," ''first-year students" and "handwriting."
"Some people would say 'oh, it's not a big thing, do you really have to go through the process of changing the language,'" said Seattle Councilmember Sally Clark who was one of the catalysts for the change. "But language matters. It's how we signal a level of respect for each other."
You know, because so many people a) routinely read through state statutes, b) would believe the term "fireman" didn't also apply to female firefighters, and c) give a crap.
The Seattle Times offers this handy guide for other "gender-biased" language the state has arduously worked SIX YEARS to change in 3,500 different statutes. Here are some examples:
--Brakeman: brake operator
--Chairmanship: position of chair
--Freshman/freshmen: first-year student
--Man’s past: humankind’s past
--Sportsmanship: sporting/hunting behavior
Ironically, the PC Police in Washington state aren't looking out for our Native American friends. The term "treaty indian fisherman" will be changed to "treaty indian fisher." Sorry, guys... er, I mean sorry, persons without identifiable gender.
Sadly, this is a growing trend in states across the country... because there's no other pressing matters to attend to:
About half of all U.S. states have moved toward such gender-neutral language at varying levels, from drafting bills to changing state constitutions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Florida and Minnesota have already completely revised their laws as Washington state is doing.