Bournemouth council votes against plan to use gender-neutral language

Bournemouth council votes against plan to adopt gender-neutral language ‘in victory for common sense’ after it was hit by backlash over calls to replace ‘Mr’ and ‘chairman’ with ‘Mx’ and ‘chair’

  • Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council voted against dropping terms such as chairman in favour of ‘chair’
  • Cllr L.J Evans said terms are ‘unnecessary and inaccurate’ and proposed change 
  • But other councillors in Dorset blasted the motion, calling it ‘ill-considered’ 
  • Said there is ‘nothing wrong with the English language’ and terms should remain

A council has refused to adopt gender-neutral language such as ‘Mx’ instead of Mr or Mrs – after hearing there is ‘nothing wrong with the English language’. 

Conservative-run Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council voted against dropping masculine and feminine terms such as chairman in favour of ‘chair’. 

The move was proposed by councillor L.J Evans who said the terms are ‘unnecessary and inaccurate’ and ‘reinforce historic gender stereotypes’.

Instead, Cllr Evans – who said ‘being woke isn’t necessarily a bad thing’ – suggested the terms ‘they’ and ‘chair’ should be used by the Dorset council, which employs 5,000 people.

But fellow councillors blasted the motion as ill-considered’, adding there is ‘nothing wrong with the English language’.

The motion to change the terms was rejected by full council on Tuesday in a move praised by locals who called it: ‘Some common sense at last’.

Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council (pictured) refused to adopt gender-neutral language such as ‘Mx’ instead of Mr or Mrs – after hearing there is ‘nothing wrong with the English language’

Unity Alliance councillor L-J Evans (pictured) – who regionally proposed the motion – said they were ‘very, very saddened’ that the council had not backed the move she had proposed 

Unity Alliance Cllr Evans said they were ‘very, very saddened’ that the council had not backed the move she had proposed.

Cllr Evans said: ‘By moving to gender-neutral language we avoid implying that one gender is the norm and help tackle unconscious bias.’

Cllr Evans previously said: ‘The use of masculine and feminine words to cover people – regardless of gender or sex – is unnecessary, inaccurate and tends to reinforce historic gender stereotypes.

‘Gender-neutral writing is about clarity, inclusion, equality and would help to prevent unconscious bias.

‘Generally, when letters are sent to a wider audience they are addressed to ‘Dear resident’ anyway.

‘If somebody writes to us using a specified pronoun of course we will use that. But some names are ambiguous.

‘A move to “Mx” is more of a general term that could replace Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms.’

The decision to keep gendered pronounce in council correspondence was praised online. 

David Hedley-Goddard wrote on Facebook: ‘Blimey, some common sense at last. Well done everyone who voted for this.’ 

Fred Corneby added: ‘The only correct decision really. We cant rewrite everything but we can be tolerant and sensitive when having to deal with situations like this in the workplace.’

Meanwhile, Peter Bachrach commented: ‘The only sensible and reasonable decision. 

‘If someone wishes to be addressed ax MX, that is their choice but don’t force it on people who disagree.

‘I see one comment that younger people will be confused by the address “Madam Chairman”. 

‘I can only suggest they understand their own language. 

‘Just because a word obtains the letters man does not make it gender specific. Taken to its logical conclusion, this would dictate our race becomes two – human and huwoman.’ 

Margaret Sutton wrote: ‘Amazed that they even wasted time and money on it.’ 

Maggie Thomas added: ‘Well done these councils! A bit of common sense!’

Joyce Elliott said: ‘Nice to see most councillors have a few brain cells.’ 

Earlier this month, the move to change pronouns sparked anger among some of Bournemouth’s residents. 

One resident, David McCormack said: ‘The tyranny of the woke group strikes again. Watch it folks or you will be sent off to be reeducated if your thinking is wrong.

‘Amazing isn’t it that those who make the loudest noises about inclusion and diversity are so intolerant of any viewpoints that don’t coincide with their own?’ 

Fellow resident Neil Gilchrist said: ‘Is this what I pay my council tax for? So councillors can sit around talking about this.’ 

Resident Daniel Cogan added: ‘Well thank God they’re focusing on the important issues facing our town.’ 

Another local added: ‘What nonsense. Better spending their time giving a good service to the population.’ 

Once said on social media: ‘This is getting pathetic now. Perhaps I’ll get offended if you don’t call me female. How are they going to deal with that! Load of b*******.’

‘No wonder I can’t get anyone from the council to sort the trees out by my property, I’ve been trying for 18 months and all there worried about is gender neutral correspondence, utter disgrace,’ a fourth added.

Another resident said: ‘Then we can have a gender neutral enforcement officer who will need an office and an assistant and then maybe a manager ( is manager allowed) and on it goes.’

In a debate over the change, Liberal Democrat Richard Burton said young people would be ‘flabbergasted’ by the use of terms like ‘madam chairman’.

‘We do need to move on and make ourselves slightly more modern,’ he said.

Conservative Ann Stribley said she would not want to be referred to as ‘chair’.

‘That is a seat for one person, usually made of wood, metal or plastic, has four legs, sometimes with upholstery,’ she added.

Fellow Tory Tony O’Neill said the proposal was ‘ill-considered’.

He said: ‘There is little wrong with the English language. There are more important issues to hand.’

Leader of the Conservative-run administration Drew Mellor said he ‘absolutely endorsed the spirit’ of proposed changes to the council’s constitution.

‘The process hasn’t been the right way to do this,’ he added.

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