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The symbol for gender-neutral restrooms at a facility in South Africa. Photo: Michele Spatari/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. House of Representatives is poised to rewrite its rules — swapping out male and female references like "he" and "she" for gender-neutral terms — in a diversity and inclusion push by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats that's drawing scorn from Republicans.

Why it matters: The proposal comes as transgender and non-binary candidates are being elected around the country, progressives are gaining influence in the Democratic politics and U.S. schools and companies are adjusting policies and language to reflect society's changing views on sexuality and gender identification.

  • The proposed changes were announced Friday ahead of two pivotal runoffs in Georgia on Jan. 5 to decide which party controls the Senate — and could stoke turnout among its supporters or opponents.
  • Members are expected to consider the package next week.

The big picture: The package announced by Pelosi and House Rules Chair Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) also includes whistleblower protections, removes floor privileges for former members convicted of certain crimes, and blocks Republicans from some last-minute amendments.

  • It establishes a select committee on economic disparity, and would make permanent an Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

But it's the gender-inclusive language that's drawing the most early attention. "He" or "she" would become "Member," "Delegate" or "Resident Commissioner." And "father" and "mother" would become "parent" while "brother" and "sister" would be "sibling."

The other side: Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called the measure "stupid" in a tweet Friday night and sarcastically added, "Signed, - A father, son, and brother"

  • McGovern told Axios in a statement: “It is ridiculous that in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, this is what some on the extreme right want to fight about...only in Congress would it be a scandal to be succinct. We are being inclusive, efficient and accurate.”

Between the lines: The change could close a potential ethics loophole if a non-binary person is involved in a conflict involving a lawmaker. The rule text change makes it clear everyone regardless of gender identification or orientation is subject to ethics regulations.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Pelosi says House "will proceed" with Trump impeachment action

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a press conference on Capitol Hill Thursday. Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) outlined plans Sunday to move ahead with legislation to impeach President Trump over last week's siege at the U.S. capitol.

Driving the news: Pelosi said in a letter to Democrats the House will on Monday work to pass a resolution designed to press Vice President Mike Pence to "convene and mobilize the Cabinet to activate the 25th Amendment to declare the President incapable of executing the duties of his office."

Updated 55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: Tears, hugs, cheers as U.S. reacts to Chauvin guilty verdict

People react after the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

People across the U.S. rallied into the night Tuesday, cheering, hugging and crying tears of relief after a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty in the murder of George Floyd.

Driving the news: After Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, Floyd family lawyer Ben Crump tweeted, "GUILTY! Painfully earned justice has finally arrived for George Floyd’s family. ... Justice for Black America is justice for all of America!"

Columbus police officer fatally shoots Black teenage girl

Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the fatal police shooting of a Black teenage girl in Columbus on Tuesday afternoon.

Of note: The shooting of the girl, identified by family members as Ma'Khia Bryant, 16, occurred just before the verdict was announced in the Minneapolis murder trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, and as the nation grapples with police reform.