© 2024 Central Florida Public Media. All Rights Reserved.
90.7 FM Orlando • 89.5 FM Ocala
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Ocala council drops change to "gender neutral" language in charter after public outcry


An attempt to update the Ocala City Charter with non-gender-specific language failed under a barrage of public opposition Tuesday night.

The changes were seen as "a slippery slope" tied to unisex bathrooms and transgender kids.

The charter has words like "policeman" instead of "police officer" and "he" for the city manager -- even though a woman has the job.

The council considered a referendum to modernize the language but dropped it after more than 30 conservatives cried foul.

Summerfield pastor Gerald Bustin was the first.

"It seems to me we're catering to the LGBT community and not to God," he said.

Local Republican leader Michael Saxe suggested "policeman" and "police woman" to avoid the "gender neutral" language.

"Anytime you say that word," Saxe said, "that's a buzzword that everybody's going to start, especially conservatives, pastors, everybody else, like, Whoa, whoa, whoa, what are you doing here?"

Sara Clifton backed the measure and made a request to council members: "[T]hat you make an effort to combat the misinformation and the sheer propaganda that has surrounded such a simple issue."


Joe Byrnes came to Central Florida Public Media from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.