A Preschool in Sweden is Taking Gender Equality to a Whole New Level
Sweden has taken great pride in the country’s pursuit of gender equality and their efforts have long been recognized. In the 2016 Global Gender Gap Index rankings by the World, Economic Forum, Sweden closed 80% of the gender gap, ranking 4th out of 144 countries.
Closing the gender gap means, in part, working for more gender-neutral practices in schools, which is why preschool administrator Lotta Rajalin and her colleagues heeded the call and set up Egalia Preschool in Stockholm in 2011.
At the school, teachers refer to the children by their given names, collectively as “friends” or using a genderless pronoun, “hen”. The use of “him” and “her” are avoided.
The books in the school were also carefully selected so that students will not read books that show traditional gender and parenting roles like Cinderella and other Disney princess’ books. All the toys from tractors to dolls and others are in one group with the aim that children would be encouraged to play with whatever toy they want.
While there are many people who are supportive and excited about the promotion of gender equality in Egalia, some called the school’s approach as “gender madness”.
In an interview with BBC News, Rajalin clarified that “All the girls know they are girls, and all the boys know that they are boys. We are not working with biological gender – we are working with the social thing.”
Clinical psychologist Linda Blair believed that while the school’s motives are admirable, she was “not sure they are going about it in exactly the right way.”
Blair called their method “stilted.” According to her, “between the ages of three and about seven, the child is searching for their identity and part of their identity is their gender, you can’t deny that.”
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