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New town added to over 60 Massachusetts towns adopting gender-neutral ‘Select Board’



ACTON – The Town of Acton announces that it has adopted inclusive, gender-neutral terms for its main executive board, which are effective immediately.

Residents at a Special Town Meeting on Sept. 8, 2020, decided on a voice vote to amend the Town Charter, changing references from “Board of Selectmen” to “Select Board.” That vote also authorized changing all references of “Selectmen” to “Members.” The warrant article was ratified as legal by the State Attorney General’s Office on Sept. 30, 2020.

The Town Meeting vote was codified at the Annual Town Election on April 1, 2021, by a vote of 1,630 yes, 380 no. The vote allowed the town to begin using the terms “Select Board” and “Members” without delay.

“The name change appropriately represents the changed times and in no way should diminish the service of the men and women who served Acton dating back to 1735,” Select Board Chair Jon Benson said.

“This shows how Acton is evolving. Hopefully it will encourage more women to continue to serve on the board,” Select Board Vice Chair Dean Charter said. “We should all welcome a diverse group of Select Board members and we can all benefit from different lived experiences and points of view.”

Select Board Clerk David Martin said: “After hearing the name Board of Selectmen, a wide-eyed junior high school girl once asked me incredulously if it was only for men. I had to reassure her that our Board has been majority women several times in the past. I’m very happy that the name Select Board recognizes that.”

“I’m glad that Acton is joining the many other towns across the Commonwealth in removing this gendered expectation of leadership,” Select Board Member Jim Snyder Grant said.

The Town has begun reviewing Town Bylaws to change all gendered references to “Board of Selectmen” and “Selectmen.” The updated charter will be presented to voters for approval at the Annual Town Meeting scheduled for Monday, June 21, 2021.

According to The Milford Daily News, over 60 Massachusetts towns have renamed their boards with gender-neutral titles in the past two years.

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