Dozens of local councils are considering measures to become more gender neutral, according to a survey carried out by public broadcaster NOS in which some 150 local councils participated.
Last week Amsterdam introduced the gender-neutral ‘Beste Amsterdammers’ as a way to address all citizens no matter what their gender.
According to the survey some 38 local councils are considering following suit. Rotterdam, Tilburg and Enschedé are already discussing the option.
‘The decision of the Amsterdam local council made us think, but before we change the way we address our citizens we need to discuss the matter a bit more,’ a spokesperson for Rotterdam local council told NOS.
In Almelo ‘ladies and gentleman’ has already been abandoned in favour of a gender-neutral term. Whether or not this is ‘Dear Almeloërs’, NOS doesn’t specify. Groningen local council, too, has concrete plans to go gender-neutral in its communications with the public.
Four local councils – Oss, Enschedé, Arnhem and Veenendaal – said they had gender-neutral toilets in the town hall. In Tilburg the council installed gender-neutral toilets during the annual fair.
A spokesperson for Enschedé local council told NOS he was ‘surprised’ local councils had made headlines with their gender-neutral toilet policy. ‘It’s funny because we decided to install gender-neutral toilets a year ago but we decided not to publicise the fact. Why draw attention to something that should be the norm?’
Arnhem local council said it removed the male and female signs on their town hall toilets last year. ‘We call ourselves a rainbow city. Everyone should feel at home here,’ a spokesman said.
The councils are most active when it comes to forms to be filled out by citizens, the survey showed. Twenty-one local councils avoid questions involving gender and 45 local councils are considering doing so.
In total, 83 of the 150 local councils do not have any plans to go gender-neutral at present. ‘It’s a completely new issue for us,’ NOS quotes a spokesperson for Oud-Beijerland local council as saying. ‘We have had no complaints or queries about this. That doesn’t mean we’re not open to gender-neutral measures. If that is what people want you have to think about it. After all, we’re here to serve the public.’
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