Gender Neutral Term for Cops & Fire Eaters Passes Assembly

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The terms fireman and policeman could soon be scrubbed from all official state statutes.

That after the assembly today overwhelmingly passed gender neutral legislation (A8321/S6542) to update antiquated and inaccurate language in describing the aforementioned civil service workers to the terms police officers and firefighters.

Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon

According to Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (D-Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, Boerum Hill), who was the prime sponsor, the bill modernizes the outdated language in state statutes to promote the idea that the professions of law enforcement and firefighting are not exclusive based on gender, and to reflect the current reality of the women who hold professions in law enforcement and firefighting.

“The use of the gendered language ‘fireman’ or ‘policeman’ is antiquated and inaccurate. It promotes an outdated worldview that suggests to young girls and young boys alike that law enforcement and firefighting are only open to men,” said Simon.

“This bill updates our laws to use gender neutral language and 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,” she added.

The bipartisan measure already passed the senate with Sen. Betty Little (R-Glens Falls) sponsoring the measure in that chamber.

Others supporting the legislation included Sarinya Srisakul, President of United Women Firefighters; Regina Wilson, President of the Vulcan Society; Firefighter Antoinette Proctor, New York City Fire Department; and Nilda Irizarry Hofmann, Chief of Community Affairs, New York City Police Department.

“As more female Firefighters join our ranks, it’s important that the language of state laws is inclusive and accurately reflects FDNY’s growing diversity,” said New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. “This update is long overdue and serves as a well-deserved show of respect to the many women who already bravely serve our city, and the more than 4,000 women who took the most recent FDNY Firefighter Open Competitive Exam.”

New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said, “The NYPD has adopted gender-neutral references to our personnel well over thirty years ago. All uniformed members of the Department are referred to as Police Officers, as opposed to the prior designations of Patrolman or Policewoman. We welcome the formal adoption of this policy.”

Assemblywoman Maritza Davila

“I am proud to support this piece of legislation that recognizes the gender diversity growing in our city’s first responders. There should be no room for old monikers and misconceptions about who wears the uniform of our police and fire departments. This bill is a full acknowledgment of the numerous women who proudly serve our communities and keep us safe,” said Assemblymember Maritza Davila.  

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