NY lawmakers work to make references to cops, firefighters gender neutral

Women already fill vital roles protecting people as firefighters and police officers.

Bipartisan lawmakers in New York have introduced legislation to make sure those women aren’t left out of old legislation referring only to “firemen” and “policemen.” The bill would replace all instances of the words “fireman” or “policeman” with the words “firefighter” or “police officer” in state statues.

“The use of the gendered language ‘fireman’ or ‘policeman’ is antiquated and inaccurate,” said bill sponsor Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (D-NY). “It promotes an outdated worldview that suggests to young girls and young boys alike that law enforcement and firefighting are only open to men.”

Women make up a very small percentage of the FDNY’s ranks, but FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro believes this bill is important. He said the language of the law should reflect the FDNY’s diversity.

“This update is long overdue and serves as a well-deserved show of respect to the many women who already bravely serve our city,” Nigro said.

The NYPD formally ditched the terms ‘patrolman’ and ‘policewoman’ decades ago, according to NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill. The department uses gender-neutral references for their personnel.

“The terms ‘fireman’ and ‘policeman’ are vestiges that are easily changed in statute,” said bill sponsor Senator Betty Little (R-NY.) “Doing so is more than a symbolic act, but simply the right thing.”