Seattle City Hall is considering a new set of standards for use of “potentially offensive” language. Among the words considered “potentially offensive”: citizen and brown bag. The Office of Civil Rights contends that those words could potentially offend non-citizens, and recommends “residents” be used instead; “brown bag” supposedly has racial connotations rather than simply being about the color of a paper bag used to carry one’s lunch. “It used to be a way people could judge skin color,” said Elliott Bronstein of the Office of Civil Rights. The city recommends people use the terms “lunch-and-learn” or “sack lunch.”
The State of Washington has already voted to remove gender-specific wording from official documents, including freshmen (first-years), journeymen (journey-level) and penmanship (handwriting).