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Ballot proposals would take out gender pronouns in some city charters

Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio
File photo.

Gender pronouns are on the ballot in at least three cities holding elections tomorrow

Voters in Grand Haven, Muskegon, and Auburn Hills will decide whether to change their city charters to use more gender-inclusive language.

“The masculine gender references will be rinsed out of the charter and replaced with gender-neutral pronouns,” says Pat McGinnis, city manager of Grand Haven, who briefed members of the city council on the ballot measure this summer.

When many cities’ charters were first written, decades ago, they simply used he or him for all or most of the pronouns. Some cities, like Detroit, then changed the charter to include both masculine and feminine pronounces. Those charters now say “he or she” or “him and her.”

But if voters approve the changes in Grand Haven and Muskegon, gendered pronouns would be eliminated altogether, and replaced with gender-neutral pronouns, such as “they.”

The ballot proposal in Auburn Hills wouldn’t change or eliminate the pronouns in the charter. Instead, the proposal would amend one section of the charter to say that all pronouns “shall be considered to be gender neutral.”

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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