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Gender Neutral Childhood Education
Egalia in Stockholm, Sweden
In Stockholm, Sweden, there is a new school called Egalia, which is a gender-neutral school for childhood education of children ages one through six. This is a taxpayer-funded preschool, which opened last year in the liberal Sodermalm district of Stockholm. At the present time, they have 33 kids enrolled called" friends," rather than boys or girls. They avoid all pronouns such as him, he, her, she or his. Their goal is to break down gender roles in the national curriculum for preschools as the egalitarian Swedes think society gives boys in unfair edge. There is a waiting list for children to get into this school and only one child has been removed because the parents were unhappy with the school.
Egalia School Playground
Certainly women have fought for equal rights and equal pay since the mid-1800s in the United States. In 1920, the Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor was established in order to gather information and to lobby for legislation to protect women workers from abuse and unsafe conditions. This is the year that women finally earned the right to vote. Since that time women have continued to fight for more rights and equal pay for equal work. And in other areas of the world Muslim women are fighting for the right to drive cars, but the conflict has always been about equal rights, not to break down gender roles. Women have fought for the right to enroll in military academies and serve in active combat; to hold leadership roles in religious worship; to be free from sexual harassment and for affirmative action. These are just a few areas that have changed since the 1960s. Women have fought for these issues as women, not as gender-neutral people.
Egalia Philosophy on Teaching
In Egalia, they have planned every detail to make sure that children do not fall into gender stereotypes from the color and placement of the toys to their choice of books. They have also hired " gender pedagogues” which is something like a dogmatic teacher who is there to help staff identify language and behavior that might reinforce stereotypes. This is one of the most radical examples of Sweden's efforts to engineer equality between the sexes. One of the teachers, Jenny Johansson, stated, "society expects girls to be girly, nice and pretty and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing."
The boys and girls play together with the toy kitchen and plastic utensils, which are placed strategically next to Lego blocks to make sure there is no mental barrier between cooking and construction. The children's books are primarily concerning homosexual couples, single parents or adopted children. There are no Cinderella type classic fairy tale books as they would be seen as cementing stereotypes. One of the staff explained how they try to help the children discover new ideas when they play. For instance, if they are playing house and the role of the mom is already taken and they start to squabble, then it is suggested that they could have two moms or three moms and so on.
The World Economic Form of 2010, reported on the gender gap and they found Sweden and three other Nordic countries lead the world when it comes to gender equality. Sweden is also considered a pioneer in legalizing gay and lesbian partnerships.
They are not the only ones that have this idea of gender-neutrality. Recently in the news, a Canadian couple drew international attention for their decision to try to raise a genderless baby by not telling anyone whether their child was a girl or boy. This child was named Storm. Small babies are usually raised in a fairly identical fashion and it would see the problems might start once the child is entering school.
Most experts agree that exposing your preschooler to a variety of playmates and experiences will help them bloom into self-confident adults. Different gender roles don't seem to be problematic as long as they are valued equally. Gender neutrality would seem that toys for boys are valued more highly than those for girls. Some parents in Sweden do think things have gone too far, and they feel that obliterating gender roles will confuse their children making them ill-prepared to face the world outside of kindergarten. Some considerate it brainwashing. What happens when these children enroll in a normal first grade? Will they fit in and feel part of a group?
A child psychologist at the University of California, Jay Belsky, questions whether gender neutrality is the right way to go. He stated, “The kind of things that boys like to do-- run around and turn sticks into swords-- will soon be disapproved of, so gender-neutrality at its worst is emasculating maleness.”
Differences Between Boys and Girls
Gender-neutrality training would seem to be pushing the children toward being gay, or lesbian as nothing is taught about a normal relationship between a man and a woman. Apparently most of these children come from homes with lesbian, transgender or single parents. The fact is boys and girls are different physically and in the way that they learn. Even at the preschool age, girls have higher levels of the hormone oxytocin which encourages girls to love and care for their dolls, while boys see them more as inanimate objects to be thrown around. Verbal skills are developed earlier in most girls and while boys rely primarily on their visual cues, girls tend to use all their senses.
In conclusion, it appears that there is more risk of damage to a child's self-image and self esteem in the long term. It is social engineering to raise a child without a concept of their gender. The child quite possibility might end up confused as to their normal gender role. After all, someone who is inclined to be gay may know it at a fairly young age, but why would they need a neutral-gender school? I doubt gender neutrality schools are the answer to any child’s normal growth or school experience.