The St. Louis Park city government acknowledged in a recent newsletter that the term “manhole” could be offensive because it’s not “gender-neutral.”
“The city acknowledges that ‘manhole’ is not a gender-neutral term. It’s used in this publication as a commonly understood term and as the current industry standard to describe these structures,” says a footnote in a December newsletter on city infrastructure.
The city said it plans to “track the use of this term” and “modify it as industry standards and usage change.”
The progressive city of Berkeley, Calif., voted in 2019 to remove all “gendered” language from its municipal code, according to the New York Post. This included replacing “manhole” with “maintenance hole” and “manpower” with “human effort.”
All gendered pronouns were also removed and replaced with “they” or “them.”
“Having a male-centric municipal code is inaccurate and not reflective of our reality,” a city council member behind the change said at the time. “Our laws are for everyone, and our municipal code should reflect that.”
This censorship of language has been promoted by the highest levels of academia, including the prestigious Stanford University, which published a guide on the “elimination of harmful language.” The guide called for avoiding terms like “American” and “immigrant.”
The university later announced that the guide is under “review.”
National audiences may recognize St. Louis Park from its 2019 decision to stop reciting the pledge of allegiance at city council meetings, a move that was later reversed.