We've all heard about the growing trend of raising gender-neutral children. For some, that means allowing boys to play with dolls, and girls to play with trucks. There's also a crop of new gender-neutral clothing lines to support the movement. And now, gender-neutral preschools may soon become a thing.
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Two such schools in Sweden called Nicolaigarden and Egalia, were recently profiled on CNN.com. At these early learning centers, teachers ensure that children are not characterized by their gender, and that all toys and play areas are gender-neutral. In fact, the students are not even referred to as boys or girls. Instead, teachers use the gender-neutral pronoun "hen." I kid you not.
While that may be taking the idea of gender neutrality too far for some, the school's teaching philosophy is actually quite appealing. You can watch a video on their so-called whole life spectra approach, which is put in place, as the preschools' director Lotta Rajalin explains, with the idea in mind that "Everyone should have access to all things life has to offer."
What that means for kids in everyday life is that boys should be allowed to cry, and girls should be allowed to play rough-and-tumble games. And that all kids should have access to a range of emotions, and types of play. Of course, who says they can't? According to Rajalin, it's actually adults who limit children.
She told CNN about her teachers, "After we had been filming and observing each other, we understood that it's not the children we have to change, it's ourselves." Rajalin added, "When you change yourself and your thinking and your expectations, you will see new things and you will see that it's better for children's development."
This all sounds very beneficial to kids, but detractors argue that a school like this exists in a bubble, and its methods and teachings can't stand up to what a child will face at a "normal" school, and in mainstream society.
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To her critics, Rajalin says, "We are not trying to say girls should be boys or boys should be girls, we just want every person to have the right to be the person they are, regardless of gender."
What is your take?