Colorado officials voted to no longer use the term “sex offender” in its proposals for fear that it might be “too offensive.”
The Colorado Sex Offender Management Board agreed to drop references to “sex offenders” from its vocabulary. The vote was 10-6, according to the Denver Post, and is now subject to a 20-day public comment period before it can be finalized.
The change in language would require the board, which is in charge of the development and evaluation of rules for rehaibilitating and monitoring those convicted of sex offenses, to refer to sex offenders as “adults who commit sexual offenses.”
Those who support the change argue it is part of a movement to use more “person-first” terminology. Referring to sex offenders as sex offenders apparently creates a public perception that they are a threat to public safety, proponents said.
However, not everyone agreed that the decision was necessary or good.
“‘Adults who commit sexual offenses’ fails to convey or represent any sort of victim-centeredness,” Jessica Dotter, a board member and sexual assault resource prosecutor for the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council, said before the vote.
Victims of sexual crimes “want their offender to be held accountable and to be known as an offender,” she added.
A sexual assault survivor who attended the board meeting confirmed that Dotter’s testimony was accurate.
“I’m involved today after hearing that it would be improper or offensive in some manner for me to refer to the man who raped me, as a sex offender,” Kimberly Corbin told the board. “The biggest thing for me is these are choices that sex offenders make.”
Ironically, the Sex Offender Management Board will not drop “sex offender” from its name because only the state Legislature can change the name of the board.