I just read an article about a new preschool in Sweden
that has created a preschool where all references to gender have been removed. The premise being that males have an unfair advantage in life due to gender and that by creating a gender neutral environment all children will be equal.
“At the 'Egalia' preschool, staff avoid using words like 'him' or 'her' and address the 33 kids as 'friends' rather than girls and boys. From the color and placement of toys to the choice of books, every detail has been carefully planned to make sure the children don't fall into gender stereotypes.”
They have even gone as far as to hire a “gender pedagogues” to oversee the decisions regarding what to include and exclude throughout the school. While I am a huge supporter of equality, I do wonder if this really works. Does creating a gender neutral environment facilitate equality?
Personally, I would rather see a curriculum that focuses on empowerment from a strength based perspective. I am concerned that by making gender invisible it might create an environment that ignores differences rather than embraces them. If it were up to me I would go to the opposite extreme and empower children to identify their own gender.
For children and adolescents who identify as transgender there is often incongruence between the gender they identify as and what their peers and family call them. This is often a set up for shame and loneliness and bullying. It’s a very interesting idea but I think equality between genders has more to do with tolerance and acceptance.
- Julie Cohen