No “Boys” or “Girls” At Swedish Preschool

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Many of you read and responded to our previous blog post about a Canadian couple raising their child “genderless.” Yesterday another report brought the gender-neutral trend back into the media spotlight.

So you give toy trucks to boys and baby dolls to girls, right?

That’s what we typically buy for young children, often unconsciously aligning with the unspoken gender norms that form our world. It’s just second nature.

But inside the Swedish “Egalia” preschool, children play with toys and read books specifically designed to slash gender stereotypes. Even language, like the pronouns for “him” and “her” have been altered, with students addressing each other as “friends” instead of girls or boys.

It can be assumed you won’t find any Disney princesses in this establishment.

Some parents are thrilled at the prospect of having a child unaltered by     what they believe are society’s biased beliefs. Others are unsupportive of the taxpayer-funded preschool, located in a liberal district of Stockholm.

But what’s wrong with boys who play with trucks and girls who play with dolls?

One article quotes a teacher explaining that girls are expected to be “nice and pretty” while boys are meant to be “manly, rough and outgoing.” The Egalia preschool is supposed to give children a chance to find their own sexuality, without the reinforcement of stereotypes. Some also commented that they have no problem with stereotypical behavior exhibited in children, as long as their actions are treated with equality.

But what do you think? Do you believe Egalia is setting children up for real-life or has this school gone too far?

Photo by Jim Franco

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  1. by Heidi D.

    On June 28, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I’m a little embarrassed to admit to my Scandinavian heritage right now. Boys playing with dolls and girls playing with trucks is one thing. Kids should be allowed to explore. However, removing all references to gender? Come on, people. Have you looked in a mirror lately? Boys and girls are different. Always have been, always will be. What’s next? A gender vaccine for babies?

  2. by The Informal Martriarch

    On June 28, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    I think this is EXCELLENT!

    It’s not even about sexuality. It’s just creating an environment where children are able to be their unique self without the gender expectations on them.

    I purposefully buy pink and purple for my boys to wear, they have dolls they can play with, I will paint their nails if they ask me to.

    All those crazy gender things are just part of society, not part of actual human nature. Taking away those early gender expectations allow the kid to just be. Boys won’t get teased for being a “girl” and the word “tom boy” would be obsolete.

    Taking away the gender references just allows more freedom. It’s not forcing them to be gender neutral, it’s showing them how to see outside the box and that humans are humans, no matter what labels are put on them.

    Many parents are scared it will make their kid gay. That’s absurd.

  3. by Kari

    On June 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    I think this is ridiculous. I agree that they shouldn’t force boys and girls to play with stereotypical toys but completely removing words like “him” and “her” is crazy. There are males and there are females. They are NATURALLY very different.

  4. by Anna

    On June 28, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    When did it become “wrong” to be feminine or masculine? Our genders are a part of who we are and each person has the right to identify with that as much or as little as they please. I think these children are going to have an identity crisis, not to mention potential feelings of shame when they hit puberty when the differences between males and females become obvious.

  5. by khadja

    On June 28, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Omg what happened to kids just being kids without all of the mess if he plays with a doll or of she plays with a truck then it means they are gay. Truthfully no one wants their kid to be judged by another but so what ppl are going to judge you and your children despite what you do right or wrong and honestly I think that school’s idea is ridiculous but the parents that choose to let their kids attend must be thrilled and if they like it I love it. But I will still tell my son certain things are for girls and my daughter has no specific restrictions. Whatever they end up being will be their own choice not because they were influenced my me.

  6. by Emily J

    On July 18, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Ridiculous. Children shouldn’t be ashamed to be BOYS or GIRLS. What happened to embracing differences? This is a way to try and conform everyone to be the same. If a boy wants to play with a doll, great. If a girl wants to play football, perfect. But she shouldn’t hide the fact that she’s a girl, and he shouldn’t hide the fact that he’s a boy. This is definitely more harmful that beneficial, and it’s even a bit comical.

  7. by annymouse

    On October 16, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    The last time I was at a preschool (at least 10 years) or kindergarten class children were allowed to play with all the toys, whether trucks or dolls and none were told that certain toys couldn’t be played with because of gender. Children at a certain age become aware of gender and look to adults to renforce that. This day care experiment is destined to fail as boys will be drawn to trucks and other traditional toys but some boys who are natural nuturers will be drawn to dolls.

    Bottom line, adults will think that day care is either over the top or great. The kids will be non-plused and probably insist on genderizing eventually to the horror of the daycare director . I am sure some care givers think the idea silly but will go along with it half-heartedly to keep the job.

  8. by Darwin

    On November 11, 2011 at 2:16 am

    Interesting. Are they going to implant in them anti hormone torpedoes with or without a timed release mode. Experimenting with kids