City officials urge ban on 'potentially offensive' language

City officials urge ban on 'potentially offensive' language
SEATTLE - An internal memo at Seattle City Hall is causing quite a stir. It suggests government workers no longer use the terms "citizen," or "brown bag."

According to the Office for Civil Rights, the terms are potentially offensive and other words should be used.

"Luckily, we've got options," Elliott Bronstein of the Office for Civil Rights wrote in the memo. "For 'citizens,' how about 'residents?'" Bronstein wrote.

The Office of Civil Rights says Seattle serves all residents, whether they're United States citizens or not.

And while city leaders publicize "brown bag" lunch meetings as a way to designate a bring-your-own lunch time event, the term has a sordid history.

"It used to be a way people could judge skin color," Bronstein said in a phone interview.

Does the public find it offensive? Most people agree it's not.

But the City of Seattle isn't alone. State lawmakers have voted to remove gender specific words in official records.

Freshman are now "first-years," journeymen are "journey-level," and penmanship is simply "handwriting."

To offend or not to offend, turns out to be a very sensitive question.

So what is a person supposed to say instead of brown bag? According to the memo, people should try "lunch-and-learn" or "sack lunch."