OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - In Washington state, dairymen, freshmen and even penmanship could soon be things of the past.
Over the past six years, state officials have engaged in the onerous task of changing language in the state's copious laws, including thousands of words and phrases, many written more than a century ago when the idea of women working on police forces or on fishing boats wasn't a consideration.
That process is slated to draw to a close this year. So while the state has already welcomed "firefighters," ''clergy" and "police officers" into its lexicon, "dairy farmers," ''first-year students" and "handwriting" appear to be next.
About half of all U.S. states have moved toward such gender-neutral language at varying levels, from drafting bills to changing state constitutions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.