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Raising Rainbows

This Gender Non-Conforming Swedish Preschool Would Make Justin “V” Bond Proud

Is Raising My Rainbow’s gender non-conforming boy C.J. ready to study abroad and with Justin Vivian Bond as his new manners teacher?

A progressive preschool in a Stockholm liberal neighborhood is trying to dispel gender bias in the classroom. The 33 preschoolers at Elagia are never referred by the pronouns “he” (han) or “she” (hon), instead relaying on “hen” – a gender non-specific pronoun popular in feminist and gay circles.

In the classrooms, boys are allowed to dress a doll and girls can toy car race with the best of them. The legos are placed next to the kiddie kitchen, where both genders share responsibilities, and a play house can have two (or three!) moms.

Elagia (“equality”) is a tax-funded school aiming to create gender neutrality from the educational get-go. This is all a part of Sweden’s national effort to dismantle gender stereotypes under the assumption that (straight) boys get an unfair advantage. The school has even gone so far as to hire staff to identity language and behavior that might indicate gender inequality.

However, some think the school’s strict effort might be counterproductive. After all, gender roles exist in the world beyond preschool. Will the kids be prepared to deal with the reality of gender?

Director Lotta Rajalin says the kids at Elagia will be more than prepared. They will also be tolerant of non-traditional family structures. The book shelf in the classroom does not carry Disney fairy tales about damsels in distress waiting for a rich prince to save them from their otherwise uncharmed life. Instead, children are encouraged to read books about two male giraffes who adopt a baby crocodile.

Despite the concerns, Rajalin states that there is a waiting list to enroll in Elagia, and only one child has been removed from the school by “hen” parents.

Still, an American child psychologist questions the school’s premise. [I wonder] whether “gender neutrality at its worst is emasculating maleness,” Jay Belsky told the Associated Press. “The kind of things that boys like to do — run around and turn sticks into swords — will soon be disapproved of.”

Turning sticks into swords? Which way to the dollhouse?

On:           Jun 28, 2011
Tagged: , , ,
    • GayGOP

      I have to say that I see both sides of this issue. Ultimately, I am against both forcing children to conform to their respective genders’ stereotypes, and also forcing children into a “genderless” society. Neither of them are possible except in a vacuum.

      Jun 28, 2011 at 9:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ex Nihili

      I say let the kids have whichever way they want why force them to conform or non-conform? “Raising” these days seems to mean disregard the child’s wants and force upon it whatever the adult believes is best, though oftentimes they have their heads so far up their asses ideologically they can’t understand moderation.

      Jun 29, 2011 at 12:26 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BobBrown

      Not forcing them into gender roles is in no way genderless. This is simply making
      sure that no outside force is forcing them or even influencing them to be something
      they are not. I think it is a great idea. Fairly masculine guy here.

      Jun 29, 2011 at 12:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • sean

      The American psychologist obviously did not read into this. Using sticks as swords will be fine, but girls will not be discouraged from engaging in this behaviour.
      It will be cool to see which gender characteristics these children take into adulthood after going through the rest of the educational system as distinctly engendered individuals.
      I would also like to point out there are very few physiological differences between boys and girls at this age, so almost all gender differences in behaviour are somewhat artificial anyway. So gaygop’s point about forcing them into a genderless society is somewhat mute, as there really is no reason at this age for a strong gender to be present. When they leave here though, is a totally different matter…

      Jun 29, 2011 at 12:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • M.

      Go Sweden! Fuck sexism!

      Jun 29, 2011 at 9:59 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DasNic

      Putting the V in double quotations seems like a douchey thing to do. Kind of when NOM blogs about “gay” marriage. And that is what I have to say about that.

      And who the fuck is Jay Belsky? What a fucking moron.

      Jun 29, 2011 at 11:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Vidur

      It’s only a matter of time before these pop up in Canada (at least I hope). Gender conformity and hetero-normality are two things I am opposed to. At the same time, I don’t think a child should be forced into anything, so long as it’s their own choices and logic guiding it. I appreciate that this school is letting kids know that gender and sex does not define a person, it is a part of the much larger whole.

      Anyways, I’m excited to see where this goes.

      Jun 29, 2011 at 12:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Vidur


      This *is* Queerty – don’t expect much in way of respect or political correctness.

      Jun 29, 2011 at 12:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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