TITLES like Mr and Ms could be a thing of the past at Oxford City Council because they are "not inclusive of transgender people".
A panel of councillors said official forms should include the gender-neutral option of 'Mx' – pronounced like 'mix' – and that honorifics could be phased out completely from documents in the future.
This would help make the local authority as "inclusive as possible", they said, in a move following government departments, high street banks, universities and driving licences, which all now accept it.
The suggestion to use Mx was welcomed by Oxford Pride but chairman Rob Jordon said he did not support scrapping titles altogether.
He said: "This is a progressive step that can only be welcomed.
"By giving someone the option to use the title they already use every day in official forms and other areas it shows the council is listening to people.
"But the thing about removing titles completely is you are taking away choice, rather than just adding it."
It came after a review of equality and diversity at the city council, which said lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff were reluctant to reveal their sexuality in internal surveys.
It also found the council had its "largest ever" workforce from black and ethnic minority groups, but these people were "clustered in the lower wage jobs and almost non-existent in senior roles".
Women were "under-represented" in the top rungs of management, it said.
Scrutiny committee deputy chairman Tom Hayes, who led the review, said there was "more to do to complete the long march to equality".
He wrote: "The council’s workforce has been changing to look more like the diverse communities that it serves.
"Good policies have helped to bring this about and tackle discrimination but further improvements are possible."
A report by the scrutiny committee panel said council staff should be reminded every year about their "responsibility to challenge discriminatory language and behaviour in the workplace".
It also called for "unconscious bias training" for recruiting managers and people working in human resources.
Mr Hayes said monitoring of the different groups among council staff would allow it tackle discrimination.
He said while staff may have "a natural desire to feel protective about personal information", disclosing it would "help make things better" and the local authority should make that clear.
The council is also reconsidering its position as a 'champion' of LGBT charity Stonewall. It currently pays the group an annual sum but the review found "the only benefit to the council is use of the Stonewall’s Diversity Champion logo".
It added: "Consideration should be given to obtaining better value from Stonewall and, failing that, dedicating the funding to other means of tackling discrimination, such as training recruiting managers."
The council review came after an Oxford headteacher said schools should stop referring to pupils as 'girls' in case it upsets those who question their gender identity.
Caroline Jordan, headmistress of the independent Headington School, said teachers should instead use gender-neutral words such as 'pupils' or 'students'.