Amid an ongoing social movement to replace traditional terms with “gender-neutral” alternatives, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is pushing for new rules to that end ahead of the upcoming 117th congressional session.
As part of the House’s proposed “future-focused” rules, House members from both parties would not be allowed to use “gendered” terms like “father, mother, son, and daughter” in legislation if the push is successful.
“The most inclusive in history”
In a joint effort with Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern (D-MA), Pelosi hopes to eliminate such potentially alienating terms from discussions in the lower chamber.
The move is said to be an aspect of the “sweeping ethics reforms” that progressives hope will make the next legislative term “the most inclusive in history.”
That initiative includes the development of a new Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, which requires Congress to “honor all gender identities by changing pronouns and familial relationships in the House rules to be gender neutral,” according to a House statement on the matter.
House proposes list of off-limit terms
Associated rules are quite specific and include dozens of examples in a list deemed off-limits, including “brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, [and] brother-in-law.”
Most of those terms are recommended to be replaced under a new list: “parent, child, sibling, parent’s sibling, first cousin, sibling’s child, spouse, parent-in-law, child-in-law, sibling-in-law, stepparent, stepchild, stepsibling, half-sibling, or grandchild.”
While the rules still must be approved by lawmakers when Congress convenes next week, a slim Democratic Party majority is likely to be enough to push the proposal through.
Of course, plenty of lawmakers on the other side of the aisle have spoken out in criticism of the rules.
“This is stupid”
For his part, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) used a series of gendered terms to describe himself in a tweet calling the proposed rule “stupid.”
This is stupid.
– A father, son, and brother https://t.co/bG9SlRAy6N
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) January 2, 2021
Even if the package is successful, House members will still be allowed to use gender-specific descriptors when conducting ordinary business or speaking from the floor.