North Myrtle Beach City Council on Monday took its first step toward making the language of its ordinances more gender-inclusive.
“There are many reasons why we need to do that,” Mayor Marilyn Hatley said. “It’s because we have a lot of women in leadership roles in our city organization. We have lady firefighters and we have lady police officers. It’s just cleaning up some wording that has been put into our older ordinances.”
Dozens of city codes use masculine pronouns like “his” or “him” without including the female gender term. So Municode, which has been updating ordinances across the country, made the recommendation to city staff with a list of ordinances where one gendered term could be expanded to include both male and female references, said City Manager Mike Mahaney.
“This is all done by computer,” Mahaney said. “What they’ll do is they’ll hit a button on the computer system and every place where it says, like ‘his designee,’ it’ll say ‘his/her designee.’ It’s not like we’re going through and changing it by hand.”
City attorney Chris Noury said the changes are only applicable to the city’s ordinances, which are stored online via Municode, and will not affect existing paper forms or cause any extra work for city employees.
“The city doesn’t have to hire staff to do this,” Noury said. “The company that codifies our code on our behalf will make those changes for us. But we have to send in the ordinance for the council to authorize them to make change on our behalf.”
The changes to the city code are as follows:
• Changing the term “he” to “he/she”
• Changing the term “his” to “his/her”
• Changing the term “her” to “his/her”
• Changing the term “him” to “him/her”
• Changing the term “himself” to “himself/herself”
• Changing the term “herself” to “himself/herself”
• Changing the term “fireman” to “firefighter”
• Changing the term “firemen” to “firefighters”
• Changing the term “chairman" to “chairperson”
• Changing the term "vice-chairman" to "vice-chairperson”
First reading of the ordinance passed unanimously. It requires one more vote to become law.