Town Leaders Seek to Make 'Selectwoman' the Official Title - NECN
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Town Leaders Seek to Make 'Selectwoman' the Official Title

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Female leaders in Brookline, Massachusetts, want to change bylaws in the town to make the position "selectwoman" rather than "selectman."

    (Published Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017)

    There's a growing trend in language to be more inclusive by moving toward gender neutrality. A group of leaders in Brookline, Massachusetts, is bucking that trend in favor of female empowerment. 

    Some people in the town, now the largest in the state, is looking to make the term "selectwomen" the norm. 

    "Ever since the November election I've realized that titles and symbols really do matter," said Selectwoman Heather Hamilton. 

    Brookline is now looking to explore the option of changing the board's name. 

    "There's been some recent interest in Massachusetts to change the name of board of selectmen to something that would be a bit more gender-neutral," said Michael Burstein, a town meeting member. 

    Two warrants have been submitted to the Board of Selectmen and take aim at changing the governing body's title and title of its members. 

    "One of them is kind of a straight forward and just wants to create gender-neutral language," said Hamilton. 

    The other warrant filed by Burstein is very specific. 

    "I deliberately and specifically filed a warrant to change the name of Board of Selectmen to Board of Selectwomen," he said. 

    That means both men and women on the board would be a "selectwoman" or "selectwomen." 

    "What people see is what will sometimes guide what they think is possible," Burstein said. 

    People we spoke with say the titles should be all inclusive. 

    "I think if you want to make it truly gender neutral and use a general neutral term like selectpeople," said Anne Kim. 

    Michael Costarelli said, "I think I would probably just say person. I think that would make everybody happy, that's a medium ground and we're all people." 

    The board will discuss the name change at the town meeting in November. 

    "It should be an interesting hash out on the floor of town meeting," said Hamilton. 

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