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Ocala makes takes another stab a stripping gender bias from its city charter

The proposed referendum that Ocala voters would consider on Sept. 21.
The proposed referendum that Ocala voters would consider on Sept. 21.

Starting Tuesday, Ocala is making another run at modernizing the language in its city charter -- taking the gender bias out of it -- after the last attempt drew opposition from dozens of conservatives.

But city officials are not presenting the changes as "gender neutral."

What seemed at first to be a non-controversial referendum to update language in the code blew up at an Ocala City Council meeting in April.

The city simply wanted to change words like "policeman" to "police officer" and stop referring to everyone as he or him.

But word had spread among several churches that Ocala was switching to gender neutral language.

It was a call to arms in the culture wars. Speakers called the changes a "slippery slope" tied to unisex bathrooms and transgender kids.

And the council dropped the issue.

Now similar changes are back on the agenda, being presented this time around as "revising masculine pronouns to include the feminine equivalent."

If the ordinance is approved, it will go before voters on Sept. 21.

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.