Pedestrians walk past a manhole cover for a sewer in Berkeley, Calif., Thursday, July 18, 2019. Soon students in Berkeley, California will have to pledge to "collegiate Greek system residences" instead of sororities or fraternities and city workers will have to refer to manholes as "maintenance holes." Officials in the liberal city this week passed an ordinance to replace some terms with gender-neutral words in the city code. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Forget 'manmade': Berkeley bans gender-specific words

July 19, 2019 - 12:35 am

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — There will be no manholes in Berkeley, California. City workers will drop into "maintenance holes" instead.

Nothing will be manmade in the liberal city but "human-made." Berkeley leaders voted unanimously this week to replace about 40 gender-specific words in the city code with gender-neutral terms.

The effort to be more inclusive is drawing both praise and scorn.

The San Francisco Bay Area city is known for its long history of progressive politics and "first of" measures, like adopting curbside recycling in the 1970s.

Some residents and experts say the ordinance sends a message of inclusivity and helps dismantle inherent bias. Others think it's a waste of the City Council's time.

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Rodriguez reported from San Francisco.

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