Hingham - Gender Neutral Article TM2021

Hingham - Gender Neutral Article TM2021


On November 5, 2020, the LWV Hingham met to discuss submitting a citizens petition warrant article for the 2021 Hingham Open Town Meeting to require the Town to use gender neutral terms for government business. This article proposes changes in a manner consistent with the examples below such as:

  • “Board of Selectmen" changes to "the Select Board" 
  • "Selectmen" changes to "Select Board member" or "member of the Select Board" 
  • "Chairman" changes to "the Chair" or "the Chairperson" 
  • "Vice-Chairman " changes to "Vice-Chair" or "Vice-Chairperson" 
  • "He/She " changes to "they " 
  • "His/Hers" changes to "their" 
  • "Him/Her " changes to "them" 


Current Status

as of March 23, 2021

The Advisory Committee reviewed the warrant article and draft comment at their meeting. Davelene Cooper, Advisory Committee member assigned to the article, responded to questions posed at previous meetings and read a summary of the draft comment. The Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend the article for Town Meeting approval. 

The LWV Hingham appreciates all the work to fine-tune the language of this article. We look forward to support at Town Meeting on May 8th.



as of March 18, 2021

The Advisory Committee reviewed the warrant article at their meeting. Liza O'Reilly presented an updated overview of the article. There was discussion regarding the final wording of edits to the By-Laws, citizens shared opinions on how committees would manage the work of making the updates, and AdCom members expressed support for the article. A vote on the article was postponed until consultation with Town Counsel is complete on details of the legal language.


February 16, 2021 - Board of Selectmen Hearing

The LWV Hingham submitted a Citizens Petition Article for Town Meeting 2021 consideration. Article Q considers changing the name of the Board of Selectmen to Select Board, using Chair in place of Chairman, updating the By-laws to use gender neutral terms and have all Hingham terms be gender neutral. 

The LWV Hingham shared our recommendation with the Board of Selectmen on February 16, 2021. An Advisory Committee hearing date is to be determined. The presentation included:

  • an overview of the research to prepare the warrant article
  • an explanation of the article
  • the benefits for Hingham

The LWV Hingham prepared a red-lined version of the General By-laws as an effort for the community to understand the updates proposed in the warrant article. 

The Hingham Anchor covered the presentation and comments from the Selectmen.


LWV Hingham Effort

Many towns across the Commonwealth have made these changes as well as more than half of Hingham’s 20 benchmark towns. A PowerPoint presentation was shared on November 5, 2020 with the background information. Update: Scituate approved a similar warrant article at their November 2020 Town Meeting.

Filing a citizens petition warrant article requires at least 10 signatures by registered voters. Julie Strehle is a LWV Hingham member and current Vice Chair of the Hingham Advisory Committee delivered a presentation explaining the process for filing a citizens petition. 

Celia Nolan, LWV Hull member, is leading a parallel effort for the Town of Hull. She will work in conjunction with the Hingham effort.

Liza O’Reilly and Kate Boland are leading the effort for Hingham. 

At the November 5th meeting, Mary Power, LWV Hingham member and Chair of Hingham Board of Selectmen, shared with the group that she spoke with the Town Administrator about this initiative. She expressed support for the effort and connected Liza O’Reilly and Kate Boland with Hingham Town Counsel for advance review of the proposed warrant article. This access will facilitate drafting the language to meet requirements of the Town and Massachusetts General Law. Also, Mary connected Celia Nolan with the Chair of the Hull Board of Selectmen to assist with the efforts in Hull.

Liza O’Reilly contacted John Coughlin, Hingham Town Counsel, to discuss the intention of the article and gain clarification on information needed to draft appropriate language. John shared that the article needs to address any name changes to correspond with past Town By-Laws, Massachusetts General Law and any Special Acts confirmed by the State Legislature. Hingham has approved Special Acts for the Town Administrator By-Law and a decision for the library. Also, the Attorney General’s office must approve the warrant articles after they are passed so it would facilitate the process if the article is drafted based on articles that were previously approved by that office. Liza O’Reilly provided John with warrant articles for Milton, Scituate, Cohasset and Brookline that are similar and he agreed to follow up with their Town Counsels as well as the Attorney General’s office to determine how to move forward.

Liza O’Reilly shared with John Coughlin that LWV Hingham intends to submit this article as a citizens petition knowing that it has the cooperation and support of many town leaders. The League is volunteering to do the research and identify the details to make this change in our town government. The effort will take time and hours to communicate the details and socialize with the community which the League is capable of doing. The League recognizes that the Town has a ‘full plate’ right now.


Warrant Article Preparation

The warrant article is due January 20, 2021. Working backward, following is a proposed timeline to complete efforts for submission:

  • January 15 - Submit Article
  • January 11 - Signatures in place/Research completed
  • December 21 - draft Article confirmed with John Coughlin

Town Meeting Review Process

  • April 26 - Town Meeting
  • April - Socialize with Community
  • February/March - Review with Advisory Committee and Board of Selectmen


Please contact l.oreilly617 [at] gmail.com (Liza O’Reilly)